Simon Dukes

PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes has called on the government to provide ‘urgent investment’ for community pharmacies so as to enable them contribute in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Dukes warned that many of the community pharmacies, that were on their knees financially before the outbreak, may not open again if they have to close after staff getting sick.

“Ninety per cent of the income of high street pharmacies come from the NHS. Unlike GPs, if a community pharmacy closes its doors, its not going to get paid. Many of them will get affected by front line staff being affected by COVID,” he said.

Last week, National Pharmacy Association has also called for contingency funding for pharmacies that are forced to close due to staff shortages caused by the virus.

Dukes also raised concerns on the medicines delivery service proposed by Heath Secretary Matt Hancock.

“There’s no NHS delivery service, if you have your medicines delivered, its either because you (the patient) pay for it, or the pharmacy is doing it for free. If we need medicines delivered, we need to see government funding,” he said.

Hancock on Sunday confirmed that people aged over 70 would be shielded from the virus by self-isolating for up to four months.

Many community pharmacists have since voiced doubts on the impact of this decision on their delivery service.

In a statement issued later, Dukes added: “Community pharmacies are on the front line and are experiencing notable increases in the number of walk-ins and phone calls, numerous enquiries for delivery services, substantial price rises for common medicines, and increasing levels of staff sickness.

“The sector needs urgent investment now just to keep the doors open and ensure that the vital services of dispensing and guidance/reassurance to patients and the treatment of minor ailments continues.”

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