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Where is the small print on COVID-19 life assurance for pharmacists?

"Pharmacy must have a meaningful new relationship with the DH"

Pharmacists need to know whether they will have to prove they have been in contact with a patient with COVID-19 to receive the £60,000 death-in-service payout, Mike Hewitson says

This morning, health secretary Matt Hancock sent this tweet:

The easy response is to welcome this news. But it’s really important that we see the small print – far too often one man’s “we’ve supported community pharmacy with an extra £300 million” turns out to be “we’re lending you your own money”.

We need to know whether pharmacy support staff are covered, because without that confirmation we need to continue to push. We also need to understand whether bereaved families are going to have to prove that their deceased loved one had contact with someone confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. Many patients with the virus are asymptomatic, and the ones that are symptomatic have so far largely not been tested.

Proving this would be very difficult to do in a pharmacy setting because of the sheer number of people coming through our doors. Are we supposed to keep a list of every patient, volunteer, customer, and delivery driver that we see in one day? But, most of all, we need to know how we got into this discussion in the first place and how we can stop it from happening again.

This is not the first time that the third-largest healthcare profession has been missed off a list like this during the pandemic. Remember the key worker debacle? In his tweet, Mr Hancock said pharmacists “are employed in a different way, it is arranged in a different way”. Well, it might come as a surprise to the health secretary but pharmacists are paid in a similar way to GPs and dentists – who were eligible for the payout from the beginning.  I’m afraid, Mr Hancock, I’m not buying that excuse.

We must have a new relationship with the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), one that isn’t delegated to the office junior, but a meaningful relationship that is commensurate with the fact that in England we see 1.6 million patients every day and are a cornerstone of primary care.

We have to use ‘death-gate’ as a turning point, to ensure that this never happens again. That has to begin with someone taking accountability for how this happened in the first place.

Nowhere within the DH board is there a community pharmacist with recent, relevant experience in practice. Until there is, we may be doomed by the groupthink demonstrated by too many people with similar backgrounds and life experiences. They have to see the world through the eyes of the patients who use and need us every day.

Mike Hewitson owns Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset


SP Ph, Community pharmacist

I just read in the news, Delhi in India has announced Rs. 1 Crore (equivalent of £110,000) to the immediate family of any Corona Warriors dying in line of duty (all the health workers in front line from a cleaner to the top consultant) And we call ourselves a Developed Country !! 

Ahmed El-Dabbagh, Community pharmacist






Dave Downham, Manager

Let's not let imperfect get in the way of good. it's very hard in a tweet to say counters assistants, dispensers, ACTs, drivers, pre-regs, accountants etc. Benefit of the doubt until it becomes an issue?

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

I really think Mike should have a job with clout representing Pharmacists...he talks a lot if sense.

O J, Community pharmacist

Farmers and cysts, you do a fantastic job hiding in the corner of that little shoe box. No one gives a rats a about your silly tick box and smarty pots. After 5 years you get treated like a doormat.
Real job is done by GPs hospital dr, nurses,dentist and MPs.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I think the thumbs down think you're being serious! Irony seems to be totally lost on a lot of people.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist


Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Have you forgotten? Locums are the lowest form of life now known to man (and the GPhC), lesser even than amoebas (and I speak as a newly locumified person who can't be arsed to change their username and will be leaving pharmacy very soon anyway) so any locum death is just a bit of collateral damage.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I think it's a safe bet that somewhere, buried deep deep down within the legalese, there will be a nice, neatly packaged, totally watertight getout clause which means that unless you get a signed statement from both parties involved, i.e. the dead pharmacist and the person who infected them, then there is no proof and therefore no payout!

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

you have to be able to prove you came into contact with a suspected or confirmed case in tthe 2 weeks before symptoms started.... what a crock

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

when you're dead.......

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