Thirty-two per cent of 745 community pharmacy professionals based in England said they were “somewhat confident” in the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, while 6% were “very confident”.
This is despite pharmacies struggling to source personal protective equipment (PPE), being contractually obliged to open over the Easter bank holiday and a £300 million advance funding package open to English pharmacies that will have to be paid back in the future.
The C+D survey, which ran from April 1 to May 10, found that 25% of respondents were “neither confident nor unconfident” in the government’s handling of the pandemic, while 21% said they were “somewhat unconfident”.
A further 16.5% of respondents said they were “very unconfident” in the government’s response.
One respondent accused the government of being “obsessed with soundbite targets” but said it “doesn't appear to have any clear strategy” or “grasp of the detail”.
Other respondents said the government responded to the pandemic “too late”, and “only remembered pharmacy when prompted”, whereas numerous individuals cited a lack of PPE and COVID-19 tests as key failings.
However, some pharmacy professionals defended the government’s actions, and said that the unprecedented nature of the pandemic meant it was “never going to get everything right”.
“Not all of this is the government’s fault – other agencies should be held to account too,” one respondent said.
When asked specifically about the business support measures implemented by the government in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, 38% of respondents said the measures were “good first steps, but not nearly enough”.
Of the remaining respondents, 27% said the measures are “just a drop in the ocean, compared to what is really needed”; 23% said it is too early to tell what impact they might have, and 12% said the government has “really stepped up when it comes to supporting businesses”.
Further findings from the survey, which looked at the impact of COVID-19 on the community pharmacy sector, are to follow.