Jo Churchill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care.

Community pharmacists have thanked Jo Churchill for expressing her gratitude to pharmacists but reminded the minister that they need more than just “warm words.”

The pharmacy minister broadcast a video message via social media on Wednesday (May 6) to thank pharmacists across the country “for all they are doing to support their communities everyday.”

In reply, community clinical pharmacist Chris Armstrong said: “We need more than kind words, Jo. Community pharmacy has been woefully underfunded for years and we are unable to cope financially with the effects of the #Covid-19 pandemic. We need an immediate and ongoing funding increase now or many will go out of business.”

Responding to message, @Rileyjulie tweeted: “It makes me cross when pharmacists only get the mention”, while superintendent pharmacist Sobha Sharma Kandel wrote: “Thanks, but we still need adequate PPE and funding!”

Pharmacists Graham Phillips said the sector needed “genuine support” rather than “warm words.” He also raised the issue of inadequate personal protective equipment in pharmacies and the untimely deaths of three pharmacists on the frontline.

In his reply to the minister’s tweet, he said the same evening her attended an NHS webinar that discussed the growing numbers of deaths amongst BAME health professionals from Covid-19.

“I asked why community pharmacy teams are denied PPE, three of my colleagues have already died,” he wrote, adding: “No answer was given.”

In her video clip posted on Twitter, minister Churchill praised community pharmacists, saying: “We are living through unprecedented times and community pharmacists across the country are providing an outstanding response to patients in extremely challenging circumstances.

“Their service is vital in ensuring the ongoing supply of medicines and health advice to all their community members.

“The government is proving extra funds to fund this expanded bank holiday service on Friday, but I’ve asked NHSE&I to make sure that they are talking to local providers who know their communities best to arrange the opening hours.

“Community pharmacists are the first port of call for many of us and I am grateful for the dedication in these challenging times and just want to say a huge thank you.”

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