Pharmacists warn MP Steve Barclay of 'slap in the face' to Covid support

MP Steve Barclay has pledged to help small businesses

Pharmacists across North East Cambridgeshire have warned the government not to backtrack on promises to cover their extra costs during the Covid-19 pandemic. - Credit: Steve Barclay

Pharmacists across North East Cambridgeshire have warned the government not to backtrack on its promises to cover additional Covid-19 costs during the pandemic.

The National Pharmacy Association says the Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a “clear promise” that pharmacies will be reimbursed for any costs incurred because of the pandemic.

And local pharmacies – including Sutton Pharmacy near Ely – have joined forces to launch a publicity campaign to highlight the £370m in their nationwide Covid spending.

This is money, they say, the government has so far refused to reimburse and a “slap in the face” to pharmacists who have been on the front line of the pandemic.

They are also appealing to MP Steve Barclay and his role in the decision as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Amar Patel, owner of Sutton Pharmacy in Sutton, near Ely, said: “My pharmacy and many others like it have continued to see patients while other parts of the health system went behind closed doors.

“As a result we have incurred massive extra costs and the government needs to cover this as promised.

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“We want to give a message to Mr Barclay: our door is open – please let us keep it that way by reversing these devastating cuts!”

Protests are taking place throughout the week in the constituencies of several government ministers, including the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The association has also pointed out that on March 11 last year, Mr Sunak said in his 2020 Budget speech: “Whatever extra resources our NHS needs to cope with coronavirus – it will get... whether its millions of pounds or billions of pounds…"

Mark Lyonette, the National Pharmacy Association's chief executive, said: “Pharmacies have been a local lifeline during the coronavirus crisis – a vital part of the NHS frontline.

“But the government continues to drag its feet over offering proper financial assistance for pharmacies like Sutton Pharmacy in Sutton.”

He added: “The Prime Minister promised to give the NHS whatever it needs to cope with coronavirus and pharmacies are a vital part of the NHS frontline.

“We need government to make good on commitments to meet all the additional costs associated with coronavirus and also address long term underfunding - so that pharmacies can stay open to keep people well and save lives.”