Symptomatic pharmacy staff, or symptomatic member(s) of their household, are eligible for testing through the self-referral online portal where they are able to order home delivery testing kits: Jo Churchill

Symptomatic pharmacy staff and members of their household can order home testing kits for coronavirus, pharmacy minister has confirmed.

The confirmation came just as the government announced that anyone with symptoms of coronavirus was eligible to book a test.

Due to the ongoing social distancing measures, members of parliament have resorted to sending written questions to ask ministers for information on the work, policy and activities of government departments. Pharmacy has been featuring prominently in the new world of a virtual House of Commons.

In a reply on Tuesday (May 19) to a written question from Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare, Jo Churchill said that testing could now be done through a self-referral online portal via this link.

“Symptomatic pharmacy staff, or symptomatic member(s) of their household, are eligible for testing through the self-referral online portal where they are able to order home delivery testing kits,” she confirmed.

PPE provision for pharmacy

Responding to the provision of personal protective equipment for pharmacy staff, the minister noted that deliveries of PPE packs were made to around 11,500 community pharmacies in England in March.

“Further, supplies of PPE have been distributed to wholesalers and distributor networks supplying community pharmacies,” she added.

“Where there remains an urgent need for additional PPE stock, community pharmacies should contact their Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) who can provide supplies to respond to local spikes in need.

“For those who are critically short of PPE, they should phone the National Supply Distribution Response for an urgent delivery. We will continue to work in ensuring that community pharmacies have access to PPE.”

Additional funding

Earlier, responding to a question from Hyndburn MP Sara Britcliffe on “additional funding to pharmacies,” Churchill said: “We understand the financial pressure of COVID-19 on community pharmacy which is why £300 million in extra advance payments have been made available to alleviate initial cash flow pressures.

“The Government has also provided additional funding to community pharmacy to cover costs associated with Bank Holiday opening at Easter and the Early May Bank Holiday and the new medicine delivery service commissioned for shielded patients, as well as making a contribution towards measures taken by community pharmacy to support social distancing.

“We continue to work with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and NHS England and NHS Improvement to examine what further funding community pharmacy may require to continue to supply medicines and to help their communities stay well.”

This was days before the government announced an increase in Category M drugs reimbursements of £15 million in June.

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