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Jo Churchill praises pharmacy’s work in ‘challenging circumstances’

Jo Churchill: “I have been listening to your concerns about capacity in community pharmacy”
Jo Churchill: “I have been listening to your concerns about capacity in community pharmacy”

Pharmacy minster Jo Churchill has written an open letter to the sector commending its “outstanding response to patients” during COVID-19.

Community pharmacies are “now, more than ever, the first point of contact with the health system for many people”, Ms Churchill said in the letter, which was shared with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) last week (April 3).

Ms Churchill said she is aware that pharmacy teams are working “long hours” to meet demand, which is why action was taken to increase community pharmacies’ flexibility when it comes to “front facing opening hours”.

“This allows pharmacists to focus on dispensing prescriptions and giving advice over the phone,” Ms Churchill wrote.

“Ongoing discussions”

Ms Churchill said she has met with PSNC CEO Simon Dukes and Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley to discuss how the government can support community pharmacy during this time.

“There are ongoing discussions about what more can be done to support you, including making funding available to help you with COVID pressures and the new services we are asking of community pharmacy during this time,” she said.

“I have also been listening to your concerns about capacity in community pharmacy.”

“Delivering a vital service for patients”

Some measures have already been adopted to alleviate the pressure on community pharmacy, Ms Churchill added. Among these, she mentioned delaying the launch of new services and fast-tracking legislation to enable community pharmacists to supply medicines without a prescription in cases where the patient has previously been issued with the medication. This legislative change could also be extended to include controlled drugs in schedule 2, 3 and part 1 of schedule 4.

“I know that there are more things to do and I am doing everything I can at pace to make these improvements. You are delivering a vital service for patients in the most challenging circumstances, and I will continue to support your efforts however I can,” Ms Churchill  said.

Community pharmacies in England were paid £200 million on April 1 as an advance payment and are set to receive a further £100m on May 1. The funding, Ms Churchill said last week (April 2), will support the sector “as we continue to assess the full additional impact of coronavirus on community pharmacy”.

What do you make of Jo Churchill's letter?

Brian Plainer, Locum pharmacist

Forget the false praise - we're way beyond that nonsense. We've been working "challenged" forever and a day. How about reccommending all your fellow pharmacists to take strike action until we receive the same pay as GP's and with immediate lumpsum backpay to every individual pharmacist at retrospective GP levels to tangibly quantify the hours and efforts of the past 20+ years that we've had the p**s totally taken out of us?

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

Was I dreaming or at one point did I hear we were going to be paid for delivering to patients who are shielding for 12 weeks?


How High?, Community pharmacist

Dreaming. What do you think all those lovely volunteers are for?


Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

Empty words--as has been said praise doesn't pay bills.Advance funding looks great on paper--examine it & it will be removed & taken back when we emerge from this difficult time.Ms Churchill is acting the same way as her past colleagues--give us the status we deserve & the remuneration we deserve.Methinks hell will freeze over before this ever happens.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

More platitudes with f-all behind them.  As an old friend used to say "Politicians? I've sh*t 'em!"

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

You have to wonder wether she actually believed that heap of [email protected], more chillingly wether she actually thinks we would believe it or it's going to make us feel any better. If either is true God help us and anything she is in charge of.
It's obviously written so she can point An equally ignorant press gaggle at it and say we are appreciating Pharmacy, look we said we do...

O J, Community pharmacist

My morale just hit sky high after reading this letter. Bless her. She cares so much about us.

Remember when we got praised last week by the head of the state then we had a terrible news of funding.

I think this letter of praise means potentially further bad news for funding. Hope I am wrong.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Praise ! Fantastic I'll pop down the supermarket immediately to buy my groceries with this 'praise'.

Ebers Papyrus, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Deeds are more important than words. Talk is pathetically cheap where NHSE&I are concerned. They have done nothing but abuse community pharmacy for the past decade. Exploiting and undermining our worth they have demoralised and alienated us. Cumulative 20% cuts to funding then asking us to do mountains of bureaucratic donkey work with reduced staffing. It’s immoral and a disgrace.

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

I wonder when C & D is going to report the preposterous requirement with only 4 days notice to open Good FRiday & Easter Monday for no good reason and no bank holiday funding uplift. 

Beth Kennedy, Editorial

Good afternoon.

Thank you for your comment.

We are in the process of writing a story about this, which will be published later today. Due to the very high volume of COVID-19 related news the team is dealing with, we are not always able to publish stories as quickly as we would wish but are working hard to bring you the latest news as soon as we can.

We did, however, mention this story in our live article of COVID-19 developments on April 3: We often publish updates here when we have not yet had a chance to write up a story in full. I do hope you will find the article a useful resource for COVID-19 pharmacy news.

All the best,

Beth Kennedy, editor, C+D

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

When/if their masters allow them. 

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

i e-mailed the Editor about this at 3.30pm today.  Nothing !

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Hopefully the new editor is not like the previous incumbent who seemed to be on the payroll of the multiples. 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Only if their masters like Boots and co allow them to reply which is unlikely 

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

It must be nice to be able to write such long letters and actually say nothing of any consequence and be paid handsomely for it.

i would rather have a simple thank you and the same arrangements as GPs - any extra  expenses paid for, no arguments

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Forget the platitudes, I'm not 12 years old. Just adequate remuneration will suffice. 

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

They can call me any profanity they like and send me a cheque of £800 per day for staff expenses, then a further £65 for heat light etc per bank holiday open if that helps

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