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RPS seeks government assurance on tests and trace, PPE and test access

RPS president Sandra Gidley had already written to the pharmacy minister in April over PPE access

The RPS has sought assurances from pharmacy minister Jo Churchill on access to the PPE portal and antibody tests and the implications of the test and trace scheme for pharmacy.

In a letter to Ms Churchill earlier this week (June 2), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) asked for confirmation that pharmacy teams and other primary care healthcare professionals will have “equal access” to the recently launched personal protective equipment (PPE) portal.

Pharmacies were excluded in the initial phase of the rollout of the portal, which launched on May 26. The RPS had previously sought confirmation that community pharmacy would be able to access the portal, in a letter from RPS president Sandra Gidley to the pharmacy minister on April 23, the representative body said this week.

“Can you confirm the date that pharmacists will be able to access the scheme?” Ms Gidley and RPS England chair Professor Claire Anderson asked in their letter to Ms Churchill on June 2.

C+D revealed in April that many pharmacists were finding it difficult to get hold of face masks from wholesalers, despite Alliance Healthcare, AAH and Phoenix UK being sent fluid-resistant surgical masks from the DH’s stockpile on April 9. Pharmacies also told C+D they were struggling to receive PPE through the national supply disruption response line.

NHS test and trace

Ms Gidley and Professor Anderson said “urgent clarification” is needed on the implications of the NHS test and trace scheme for the pharmacy sector, as it could cause disruptions to community pharmacy services should a pharmacy be forced to close for two weeks.

Under the programme, anyone who has been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus will be asked to isolate for 14 days.

“Would staff in a pharmacy or GP surgery, often working in close proximity, all have to self-isolate for 14 days if a patient or member of the team was tested with COVID-19?”, Ms Gidley and Professor Anderson asked.

Access to antibody tests

C+D reported last week that NHS staff in England, including community pharmacy teams, will be given priority access to COVID-19 antibody tests.

However, an NHS letter on May 25 said that “each NHS region is coordinating its own specific arrangements to roll out antibody testing to NHS staff”. This has prompted the RPS to ask the pharmacy minister for “confirmation that all staff in pharmacy teams who want an antibody test will be offered one”. Ms Gidley and Professor Anderson said they were looking for assurance from Ms Churchill that antibody tests will be “made available to all health and care staff as quickly as possible”.

4 Comments
Question: 
Do you welcome the RPS's initiative?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I'm looking forward to someone in a Pharmacy positively testing, then the entire building closing for 14 days whilst everyone isolates as per the protocol.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Must have already happened somewhere, surely?

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

'The RPS has sought assurances from pharmacy minister Jo Churchill on access to the PPE portal and antibody tests and the implications of the test and trace scheme for pharmacy.'

This just sounds so ridiculously wishy-washy - how about the RPS DEMANDS assurances and ACTIONS from the Government? That is what they should be doing, not seeking 'assurances' which, as generations of Governments of all colours have shown, are easily given but seldom followed through. But then that is the RPS all over - namby-pamby, weak and toothless. That's why I'm not a member any more - I'd rather have the family takeaway each month that I could afford from stopping the RPS fees.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

so Key worker status for schools, ability to travel, shopping priority, death benefits, ppe, testing, antibody testing etc. All things where NHSE/DoH "forgot" we might need them. all finally agreed to some extent or another by lots of pleading and begging or stirrings among the workforce. This has happened far too often not to be deliberate. If we want to be included at the start, it has to hurt to leave us out, not lead to a nice letter. 

The only thing that hurts these people is public criticism and shaming. Look at the effects of the care industry standing up and telling the world that they were being forgotten and the possible consequences. 

GPs were doing it virtually every day at the start, hospitals too. 

we need leaders who are willing to make themselves unpopular with the people who make these policies, being nice isnt working, in case they havent realised yet. Community Pharmacy has shown itself to care and be there for patients by huge efforts and risk,  we are now being asked to expand our influence further by putting up rainbow posters. How about some of the people who lead the "representative" organisations doing their bit by standing up for us.

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