I am absolutely appalled by the fact that community pharmacy teams don’t appear to have been included in the recent announcement of a £60,000 death in service benefit.
It has become clear that pharmacists, yes pharmacists, can only apply in exceptional circumstances and the scheme can consider them if those exceptional circumstances are accepted.
This is nonsense.
Pharmacy teams consist of other members of staff not, just pharmacists. We’ve got counter assistants who are risking their own personal health and wellbeing often for minimum wage. We’ve got other members of staff as well who are not going to be well paid whereas you’ve got people within the NHS pension scheme who will already be covered by death in service benefit.
Pharmacy teams are not eligible to apply for the NHS pension scheme and will then not be covered by that benefit. It will also, apparently only apply if the member of staff is providing ‘hands-on’ care.
Pharmacy teams are doing that.
We may not be incubating patients, we may not be giving them CPR etcetera but we are providing face to face care. We are the only part of the primary care family that has an open-door policy. We’ve got to have our doors open.
NHS England will only allow us to shut 2.5 hours a day. We have to see patients.
It’s ludicrous to think that a pharmacy is not providing face to face care in areas where there are known COVID-19 cases.
Most patients will COVID-19 are going to be a-symptomatic we don’t know who has COVID and yet anyone can walk through our doors. This is an absolute joke and it has to be stopped.
I need to say to Matt Hancock and Joe Churchill that this is an absolutely ludicrous situation. Community pharmacy is the only part of primary care that has been seeing patients and yet they are potentially excluded from this death in service benefit.
In the long term, we need to look and see if pharmacists and pharmacy teams should be eligible for the NHS pension scheme because we are taking the same risks on as everyone else.
In the short term, you need to do the right thing.
That means giving the option for bereaved families access to this death in service benefit.
At the moment we have suffered three deaths in pharmacy circles that I know of, two community pharmacists and one ACT. There is a third pharmacist but that’s a hospital pharmacist but is still part of our pharmacy family.
So how can those same groups of people taking the same risks to be treated differently?
This is simply ludicrous.
We have dentists, most of which are not seeing patients anymore who are included in the scheme. We have GP practices also included in the scheme.
However, the third arm of the primary care, the invisible limb of primary care, which is community pharmacy right now happy to mandate that we open on bank holidays, happy to tell us what we’ve got to do but always there seems to be a caveat.
No ifs, no buts we must be included in this scheme.
Mike Hewitson is an independent pharmacy contractor. He is also a Councillor for Stoke & Norton Sub Hamdon, South Somerset District Council. His views are his own.