Secretary of State thanks community pharmacy teams for their COVID-19 efforts

17th June 2020

From L-R – NPA Chair Andrew Lane, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and community pharmacy contractor Market Chemist Shiraz Mohamed.

On a visit to Market Chemist in London, the Secretary of State extended his thanks to all those working in community pharmacies for their ongoing efforts to support local communities through the pandemic.

Mr Hancock heard from Shiraz Mohamed, an independent community pharmacy contractor, about how his pharmacy has been helping the local community throughout the pandemic. Ensuring that patients have access to the medicines they need has been critical – and this can be supported through services such as electronic Repeat Dispensing – and pharmacies have had to find new ways of working to cope with increased demand for medicines and advice.

Andrew Lane, Chair of the National Pharmacy Association, also attended the visit and told the Secretary of State about the wider impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on community pharmacy.

Like all healthcare professional settings, pharmacies have been under considerable pressure and have innovated to cope. Many pharmacies have been offering more services and consultations over the phone or internet, working with local GPs to provide wider clinical care such as for patients with minor illnesses, and strengthening links and integration with other primary healthcare professionals such as dentists.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, said:

“Pharmacists have been at the forefront of supporting people through this pandemic, and I want to express my gratitude to each and every one of them for supporting this country and their local community.

“Traditional face-to-face services really matter and, combined with embracing technology and innovation, they have been central to how pharmacies have continued to serve their communities. In doing so, they have kept people safe and well.”

Andrew Lane, Chair of the National Pharmacy Association, said:

“We discussed current challenges and the future, recognising that patients value their local pharmacies immensely.  New NPA research shows 89% of people say pharmacies are playing an essential role in the COVID-19 crisis and 71% see us as a key part of the NHS. Our members are ambitious about their role in improving the health of the nation.  This includes supporting efforts to test and trace for coronavirus and in due course to vaccinate people against the virus. The Health Secretary’s visit was also an opportunity to highlight how pharmacies are continuing to innovate and find new ways of working, and to underline the support we need from government.“

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive of PSNC, said:

“We know that community pharmacies have been playing a critical role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and it was great for a contractor and his pharmacy team to be able to showcase this to the Secretary of State yesterday. Pharmacies have made considerable changes to the ways in which they operate and we are continuing to work with HM Government to ensure they are fully supported through this.”

Shiraz Mohamed, independent community pharmacy contractor at Market Chemist, said:

“As a community pharmacist, ensuring that my patients have the medicines they need as well as relevant advice is crucial, but I also want to be able to offer them a range of clinical services. In recent years I have invested in a bigger team, a multi-workstation dispensary, and a range of clinical services including making remote GP appointments available to patients from my pharmacy. It was an honour to show all of this to the Secretary of State yesterday, and to explain to him the value of what we do and the need for us to fully integrated within the NHS.”