The HSCC, one of the House of Commons select committees, published a report on the impact of COVID-19 on NHS services last week (October 1), as part of which it examined the delivery of core NHS services during the pandemic.
The report “disappointed” the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) – which represents manufacturers of branded OTC medicines, self-care medical devices and food supplements in the UK – it said in a statement last week (October 1).
The PAGB said the report did not point to community pharmacy and self-care as “vitally-important means of reducing demand on either A&E services or GP surgeries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“We will continue to press for a national self-care strategy – including better education and easily-accessible, reliable online information about self-treatable conditions – and for an enhanced role for community pharmacies, whose teams can offer so much expert advice as well as recommending when an individual might need to seek further medical help,” it added.
In The Future of the NHS, a report it published in August, the PAGB had previously argued that the role of community pharmacy should be further enhanced. It said in the report that pharmacies played a crucial role during the pandemic, becoming “an essential place to receive health advice and purchase over-the-counter medicines”.
PPE and testing
The HSCC report made a case for all NHS staff to receive “a consistent and reliable supply of appropriately fitting personal protective equipment (PPE)” ahead of a potential second wave of the virus.
It also urged the government to consider routinely testing all NHS staff, to ensure those who “provide treatment to patients” are not exposed to “any further unnecessary risk of catching or spreading COVID-19”.
However, the recommendations for introducing routine testing currently refer to testing in hospital settings rather than in the community, an HSCC spokesperson told C+D last week (October 1).
Commenting on the report, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English board chair Professor Claire Anderson said that “it’s vital that pharmacies continue to be included in the government's PPE portal”.
“With the second spike and winter pressures, pharmacy teams must get the support they need, wherever they work,” she added.
The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D today (October 6) that the organisation is “very concerned by the absence of community pharmacy” in the HSCC report.
“Community pharmacists offer cost-effective solutions to taxpayer investment and demonstrated their credentials to deliver when A&E was on the point of collapse back in March and April,” she added.