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The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has welcomed the government’s latest clarification  that the death in service benefit for frontline NHS key workers has now been extended to pharmacy teams.

In a letter sent to RPS President Sandra Gidley last week, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hacock wrote: “I absolutely recognise the vital contribution of community pharmacy staff as a frontline service and the increased risks that community pharmacy staff may face where they are providing close personal healthcare,” as he confirmed that the death in service benefit will now cover the entire pharmacy staff.

The scheme, which was limited to frontline NHS key workers, will now include pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dispensing assistants and counter assistants.

Commenting on the confirmation, Gidley said: “We have consistently fought for all of the pharmacy team to be included in this scheme. The original omission of pharmacists and their much-valued colleagues from the benefit was a body blow for all of us.

“We are very pleased to have now received personal reassurances from Matt Hancock that the whole pharmacy family will now be eligible to make a claim under the scheme. Frontline pharmacy teams have shown extraordinary dedication to their patients and the NHS during the pandemic.

“Pharmacies are one of the few places where patients can still get face-to-face advice and treatment, and as such are exposed to increased risks. It’s only right that such commitment is recognised should the very worst happen.”

The scheme is non-contributory and pays a £60,000 lump sum.

A frontline worker needs to fulfill the following criteria to secure  benefit under the new life assurance scheme.

  • The individual was employed in a role covered by the scheme
  • It can be established that in the 14 days before symptoms emerged, the individual had been working in environments or locations where personal care is provided to patients or service users who have, or were suspected to have, contracted coronavirus
  • The nature of the work they did led to a increased risk of contracting coronavirus
  • Coronavirus was the cause of or a contributory factor in the death.

“It recognises that frontline health and social care staff are working in environments where direct personal healthcare is provided to patients and service users who have or are suspected to have Covid-19,” Hancock wrote in the letter which was also sent to President of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians Liz Fidler.

Giving her reaction, Fidler said: “The clarification from the Secretary of State that Pharmacy Technicians, Dispensers and Medicines Counter Assistants are included in the Governments Life Assurance Scheme is extremely welcome.”

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