The Scottish Health Secretary Jeanne Freeman has announced an initial funding package to support community pharmacy through the COVID-19 crisis.
She has indicated that community pharmacy in Scotland has made a significant contribution to the safe supply of medication and caring for the public during the pandemic so far.
She called on the public to have patience with pharmacy teams at this unprecedented time and she called on communities to support the pharmacy teams as they continue to support communities across Scotland.
The additional funding is intended to help with costs including:
- Additional staff hours and locum costs.
- The increased amount of medicine prescriptions.
- Modifications to premises such as installation of protective screens.
- Additional cleaning costs.
- Increased phone consultations.
Commenting at the daily news conference today she said:
“Today I want to outline steps that we are taking to support community pharmacies. Community pharmacies are very much a central part of our primary and community healthcare workforce and services. They are in many ways where most of us will secure that healthcare and support that we need.
“I want to thank all Community Pharmacy teams for their incredible hard work throughout this pandemic. They are doing an invaluable job to keep ensuring patients in Scotland continue to receive their vital medicines in what is unprecedented times for the NHS.”
“Working with the Community Pharmacy Scotland we have agreed an initial package of additional funding for Community Pharmacies worth £5.3 million to help them meet some of the costs of responding to COVID-19.
“This will address their unparalleled levels of activity they are undertaking in the pharmacy network through items dispensed and consultations and the treatment they are providing through the now extended minor ailments service.
“It will cover the cost of equipment, adaptations to premises, additional staffing and locum cover when they have sickness or absence.
“Given the exceptional situation we are in, I have taken the unusual step of asking community pharmacies to remain open on Good Friday and Easter Monday where it is possible to do so.
“I can confirm that the Scottish Government will meet in full any necessary additional costs incurred by community pharmacies in supporting the NHS at this time.
“This will help to alleviate some pressure from out-of-hours services.
“Even in the exceptional circumstances we are in I am pleased they have responded so positively to my request of them to remain open at Easter.
“Finally I would like to stress once again as is the case across all of the health service that pharmacists are working incredibly hard right now. I understand that there are times when we are queueing for our medicine or advice that we can become frustrated by those queues but I would ask everyone to please understand that our community pharmacies and our pharmacies are part of that healthcare workforce that I know you support and they need your support as much as any other apart of it does.”
Community Pharmacy Scotland has welcomed the initial additional funding announcement made today by the Cabinet Secretary Jeanne Freeman.
Commenting on the announcement Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) said:
“This will in part address the unparalleled levels of activity experienced across the pharmacy network in both life-saving medicines supplied and the Minor Ailment extension thereby playing a critical role to support the wider NHS.
“The additional funding will help cover the costs of equipment and adaptions to premises and additional staffing costs. CPS would like to stress however that this is only initial funding.
“The community pharmacy network has been the real frontline in supporting patients within primary care in recent weeks as the public have sought advice from the healthcare teams available to them within their communities.
“We have agreed to continue to engage with Scottish Government colleagues to ensure that this is truly recognised in financial terms, as this pandemic continues, as we know it is in policy terms within Government in Scotland.
“While the Easter opening ask is one that will be difficult for pharmacy teams anticipating a break after a number of challenging weeks it does underline the importance of community pharmacy teams up and down the country.
“As well as recognition of the ‘invaluable role’ of community pharmacy the Cabinet Secretary also states ‘the Scottish Government intends to meet any additional costs incurred by pharmacies supporting the NHS at this time.
“CPS would like to again extend our thanks and appreciation to the community pharmacy network for their outstanding dedication throughout this exceptional period.”