PDA ask cross party group of MPs to challenge Health & Social Care Secretary on compensation scheme

The PDA are outraged at the exclusion of locum and community pharmacists from the coronavirus compensation scheme and have called on the MPs that originally called for the scheme to challenge the Health & Social Care Secretary on his decision.

Wed 29th April 2020 The PDA

The Health & Social Care Secretary announced a coronavirus compensation scheme for England after he was lobbied by a cross party group of MPs, however according to Department of Health spokespeople the proposals being developed will exclude community pharmacists.

PDA members working in hospitals, GP practices, community pharmacy and elsewhere from across England have contacted us since the exclusions were made public asking how they can take united action to ensure the whole profession are treated fairly.

The PDA wrote to Matt Hancock on 28 April and this morning we raised this issue direct with the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer of NHS England to ensure the feelings of pharmacists are communicated to the minister.  We are now commencing a number of other lines of action, including writing to the 50 MPs that initially called for the scheme asking them to ensure the eligibility is changed to include community pharmacists.

As a UK-wide organisation, the PDA is also calling on the Health Ministers in the other nations to ensure the schemes they introduce include community pharmacists when first announced.

We believe the current position of the Secretary of State to exclude pharmacists from the scheme is utterly perverse and wrong and we call on all parts of the sector to  unite on this issue and work together to get this decision reversed.  In that spirit we have published here links to a petition and template letter for you to write to your MP, both of which were produced by the Chemist & Druggist:

Sign the petition

Download the letter to your MP

The PDA will confirm the other course of action we are taking on this issue in due course

The text of the letter to the MPs who originally called for the scheme from PDA Chairman, Mark Koziol, is as follows:

29 April 2020

 

I am writing to you because you recently signed a cross party letter with other MPs to urge the government to introduce a compensation scheme for the families of those who die whilst working on the front line in the fight against coronavirus.

The Pharmacists Defence Association is the largest organisation representing pharmacists, with over 31,000 members across all sectors including hospitals, community pharmacies and primary care. We are also an independent trade union, recognised for negotiations in Boots.

As you will no doubt be aware, this week the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock MP announced that the government would be introducing a life assurance scheme that would pay out £60,000 to the families of those who die from coronavirus whilst working as essential front line NHS staff and care workers. This has been widely welcomed as a recognition that hundreds of thousands of people are working in areas and putting their lives and those of their families at risk.

Whilst we are awaiting further details of the scheme, it has been reported from the DHSC that pharmacists in community pharmacy will not automatically be part of this scheme.  Those members working in hospitals and directly employed by the NHS will already be able to breath a sigh of relief knowing that any scheme will cover them. However, our members who are doing equally important work especially in community pharmacy will wake to the headlines today with less certainty. Pharmacists, whether as locums or employed by the private sector pharmacy contractors, are working on the front line in a greater way than ever before. As more GP surgeries close their doors to walk in patients with pre screened bookings only, community pharmacy has become the front line dealing with the public, many of whom will still present with symptoms of COVID19.

We are already aware that 3 members of our pharmacy family have died as a result of COVID19, 2 of whom worked in community pharmacy. Their families and others who sadly may also fall to this virus, deserve to know that they are valued and recognised by the government as much as their colleagues directly employed by the NHS. Community pharmacy activity is 95-98% funded by the NHS, so it would be utterly perverse and wrong if pharmacists and their teams, at direct risk of contracting this virus in their work, were not supported by any NHS Life Assurance scheme.

This latest news has further angered the pharmacy sector who are already reeling from the lack of understanding of the stress being faced by community pharmacists. There appears to be little understanding by Public Health England or NHSE in recognising the risks being faced by pharmacy teams from coronavirus and the real need for PPE. We are continuing to campaign for more PPE to be available and these extra costs to be supported by NHSE.

We are urging you to hold the government to account and to seek assurances from the Secretary of State that the Life Assurance scheme will cover community pharmacists and their teams, whether employed or locums. Furthermore we are calling for all private employers in the healthcare sector to be reminded of their duty to report incidences of coronavirus or any related deaths under the reporting requirements of the Health and Safety Executive.

We thank you for your support and should you wish to have further briefings please contact us.

Yours sincerely,

 

Mark Koziol M.R.Pharm.S.

Chairman

 

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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