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PDA welcome reversal of decision to exclude community pharmacists from compensation scheme

The UK government have reversed their decision to exclude community pharmacists from the coronavirus compensation scheme in England. The PDA has welcomed the u-turn by the Secretary of State Matt Hancock and praised pharmacists for their professional unity

Thu 30th April 2020 The PDA

Following a massive outcry from pharmacists and political supporters who recognised the injustice of what had been proposed, the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced a change to the scope of the coronavirus compensation scheme with an early morning tweet on Thursday 30 April.  An outraged profession had reacted with anger at the original decision not to include community pharmacists within the scope of the scheme.

As soon as the scheme was first announced the PDA  wrote to Mr Hancock  requesting that he confirm community pharmacists would be included in scope and making it clear that the profession would consider it “perverse and wrong” if they were not. However, initially, Department of Health officials responded to requests for clarity on the scheme details by saying the decision had been made to exclude those practicing in community pharmacy. This was an incredible response, bearing in mind that GP’s were included in the scheme despite that fact that the majority of GPs were now largely receiving pre-screened and virtual appointments; this was resulting in huge increases in patient visits to community pharmacies creating much more face to face exposure and risk of contracting the virus. 

Paul Day, PDA Director said “We firstly want to commend our members in hospitals and GP practices who contacted us yesterday to ask what they could do to ensure the government changed their policy to include colleagues in community pharmacy. We believe in professional unity, standing up for each other is in our DNA, that’s partly why we are so proud to be called the ‘union’. It was that unity, with pharmacists across the country expressing their concern, that forced the government to change their position.”

In their first actions to challenge the exclusion the PDA had raised the issue directly with Keith Ridge, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England and requested he raise the issue with Ministers, which he did. PDA then wrote to the fifty Members of parliament who had originally lobbied Mr Hancock to introduce a scheme for health workers and received positive expressions of support. The PDA further raised its concerns at a virtual meeting with senior Department of Health and NHS Officials on Wednesday and asked that they used their influence to reverse this decision. It became apparent that they recognised the strength of feeling from within the profession and that they had also received expressions of concern from several of the other pharmacy bodies.

On Wednesday the PDA promoted a petition and template letter to local MPs which had been launched by an online publication.

Mr Day continued “We were never going to let that original decision stand and reflecting the mood of our members we were actively exploring a range of further actions, with nothing ruled out. This morning we praised the Wales Government for confirming that their scheme would include community pharmacists and encouraged England to match the decision. Less than an hour later we were in a meeting discussing our plans for further action, when Mr Hancock announced his u-turn”.

The PDA thanked Mr Hancock for doing the right thing.

The PDA have also pressed Northern Ireland and Scotland governments to protect all pharmacists and their teams with a compensation scheme irrespective of their sector.

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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