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NHS England: Death in service payment covers whole pharmacy team

Mr Ridge said he has taken “serious steps at the highest level” to ensure pharmacy teams are covered
Mr Ridge said he has taken “serious steps at the highest level” to ensure pharmacy teams are covered

Community pharmacy teams in England “will be eligible” for the government’s life assurance scheme, England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge has said.

  • NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer said pharmacy teams will be covered by the policy
  • DH head of pharmacy Jeanette Howe confirmed locums will be covered, but still referred only to pharmacists
  • Further details on the scheme are expected soon, officials have said

Mr Ridge had “taken action” and “serious steps at the highest level” to ensure that pharmacy teams are eligible for the government’s death in service scheme, he said during an NHS England & NHS Improvement webinar for pharmacy contractors last week (May 7).

“The secretary of state [for health and social care] has confirmed in a recent daily briefing that support would be available across pharmacy,” he added.

“Detailed arrangements” on the death in service payout, including those “in respect to pharmacy”, are “expected to be published shortly,” Mr Ridge said.

Last month (April 30), the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) reversed its original stance that community pharmacy teams in England would not be automatically eligible for the £60,000 death in service payment. However, it was only able to say that pharmacists would now be covered and could not confirm if this extended to the entire pharmacy team.

C+D’s has approached the DH for for confirmation of Mr Ridge’s statement.

Earlier this month, C+D launched a campaign, including an open letter to the health secretary Matt Hancock, a template letter for readers to send their MP and a petition that has garnered over 10,400 signatures, to ensure the entire pharmacy team is covered by the policy.

DH: Locum pharmacists eligible

Jeannette Howe, head of pharmacy at the DH, said eligibility for the scheme depends on “whether the pharmacist has been working delivering NHS services in an environment where in the previous 14 days they could have contracted the virus from patients”.

“It's about working in a situation where someone is at risk rather than one's employment status,” she explained, referring to a question during the webinar about whether locums will be covered.

However, Ms Howe only referred to pharmacists and locum pharmacists in her response – not the wider pharmacy team.

6 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the scheme?

Meera Sharma, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Well done C&D and all those involved to see this through.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

OK, about time. What's happened to 'We're all in this together'? It seems like we're only 'in it' if we kick up a stink about not being 'in it' and then we're let 'in' in stages.

Patricia Munro, Pharmacy technician

What about dispensary teams in community pharmacy in Scotland?

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Thought it'd already been confirmed they were? It was just England that was lagging behind, as per usual.

Yes, just checked - NHS Scotland confirmed that on 5th May. Pharmacy in Scotland seems to be taken much more seriously than it is in England. Down here, we are seen as expendable, not much more than an inconvenience, it seems.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

I bet that is giving him nightmares! Imagine having to do something that's to Pharmacy's benefit instead of kicking it...must have hurt!
If he really cared, how did it get through without us all being included in the first place?
Either incompetence or he didn't care.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

It's a total insult isn't it? We have to drag him by the hair (if he's got any - don't know - mine headed west years ago) kicking and screaming in order to get anything out of him. Perhaps this is the way forward - for once, all of the pharmacy representation groups lined up, agreed on an issue, kicked up a stink about it and got a result! Who knew that could work?!

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