British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a coronavirus briefing in London, Britain, February 10, 2021. Steve Reigate/Pool via REUTERS

Boris Johnson’s fulsome praise and a promise to reimburse Covid-19 costs has lifted up the mood of the community pharmacy sector.

“I want to make sure they are reimbursed as soon as possible,” the prime minister said when asked whether pharmacies would be reimbursed for the additional costs incurred during the global pandemic.

At Wednesday’s (Feb 10) daily coronavirus briefing, Johnson also praised community pharmacy for playing a “vital role in helping us to fight the pandemic and many other public health needs.”

He added that he doesn’t want to see any pharmacies close as “I think community pharmacies provide an absolutely outstanding resource for our country and its healthcare needs”.

The prime minister’s support for community pharmacy came on the day that a newspaper report suggested the sector could be contemplating a strike action over the non-reimbursement of its Covid-related costs.

Commenting on Johnson’s pledge, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee Simon Dukes said: “It was encouraging to hear the prime minister committing to reimbursing community pharmacies’ Covid-19 costs last night, and this was well timed coming alongside increasing national media coverage of the sector and PSNC’s latest ministerial meetings on this topic earlier that day.

“The negotiations on Covid-19 costs are ongoing and at the heart of them is the question of how great those costs are: this is the difficult discussion that we are having with HM Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Care. We’ll continue to highlight Ministers’ support for the sector in our discussions, but the very positive words of politicians must now lead to the funding outcomes that we need.”

Steve Anderson, group managing director for PHOENIX UK, said: “Boris Johnson said he did not want to see any pharmacy closures as they provide a vital lifeline to healthcare access in communities across the country. I agree.

“Hopefully, Treasury Ministers and officials were listening and will now address the situation and unlock the fair and sustainable funding our sector needs to survive and continue to provide the healthcare support, services and advice which people want, need and value.

“It’s time to reimburse Covid costs now, invest in the future and unlock the potential of community pharmacy.”

Jeremy Meader, managing director for Numark, commented: “We are hugely encouraged to hear the Prime Minister this week offer his commitment to providing reimbursement for pharmacies, “as soon as possible.”

“We welcome his recognition of the efforts of our community pharmacies.  What we do want to see now however is action. We cannot continue to witness ongoing pharmacy closures – reimbursement is long overdue.

“We are optimistic and hopeful that this recognition may at last be the turning point in this devastating funding crisis.  We await further details, and in the meantime will step up our efforts to continue to lobby Government for the funding pharmacy deserves.”

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