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NPA to give 'hard-hitting' response to Covid inquiry

NPA chief Mark Lyonette: Government 'kicking the debt down the road'

National Pharmacy Association chief executive Mark Lyonette has said his organisation will provide a “hard-hitting” response to a joint parliamentary select committee inquiry on the lessons learned from Covid-19, including pressing the government for greater funding support for community pharmacies.

The inquiry, which starts on Tuesday, will see the Health and Social Care Committee and Science and Technology Committee examine the Government’s response to the pandemic so far and assess the scientific guidance it has followed from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

Experts and witnesses will also look at the effectiveness of Government measures such as lockdown and social distancing and their impact on the social care sector and black and minority ethnic communities.

Mr Lyonette said the NPA will make the case for the Government to compensate pharmacies for the additional costs they have had to bear since the start of the pandemic in March, and said that advance payments given to the sector would “merely kick the debt problem down the road rather than resolve it.”

In July Lord Grade strongly criticised the Government over the £370m in advance funding for pharmacies in England, arguing it was “nowhere enough” to ensure independents stay in business.

Most respondents to an NPA poll in June said those advanced payments should not be repaid by pharmacies.

“The NPA will be making a hard-hitting submission to this inquiry, which is an opportunity for detailed parliamentary scrutiny of the government’s response to Covid-19,” Mr Lyonette said.

“We will be clear to MPs that far more Government support is needed for the pharmacy sector, which has done so much to keep the NHS on its feet over recent months.”

He added: “The Health Select Committee missed the opportunity to make clear recommendations for pharmacy in its earlier report on delivering core NHS services during the pandemic. It has now a second chance to acknowledge the central role of community pharmacy in this on-going crisis.”

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