The Treasury is demanding that nearly £400 million of emergency loans be paid back by community pharmacies immediately, despite pharmacies using the loans to buy PPE.
Today, Bill Esterson MP has tabled a Parliamentary Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer demanding answers about emergency loans to local pharmacies, after meeting Dr Lisa Manning, CEO of Sefton Local Pharmaceutical Committee.
At the height of the pandemic, the government gave nearly £400 million emergency loans, which was subsequently used to purchase PPE, install screens and carry out home deliveries for shielding patients.
The government is now demanding all of that money be repaid. This is despite pharmacies experiencing higher potential for Covid-19 transmissions as GP offices, dentists and optometrists shut during early lockdowns.
Commenting, Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson said: “Community pharmacies have had an impossible job over the past year, remaining open while GPs, dentists and optometrists shut their doors.
“Pharmacists have been the unsung heroes of this pandemic.”
“Now, the government is demanding nearly £400 million in emergency loans which were used to purchase necessary PPE and other safety measures.”
“I am seeking answers from the Chancellor today and I hope he will listen to representations from the pharmacy community to stop this nonsensical approach.”
Commenting, Dr Lisa Manning, CEO of Sefton Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: ”Community pharmacies have remained open throughout this pandemic, delivering high quality care and putting their teams at extreme risk.”
“The Government needs to consider the financial impact of asking the pharmacies to pay back the emergency loans at a time where immediate pressures are pushing many community pharmacies to the brink and payments had not been enough to cover financial pressures brought on by Covid-19.”
Over the course of 2020, pharmacies received £370 million in emergency loans from HM Treasury.
· In February 2021 before the Budget, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) wrote to the Chancellor asking him to write off the loans and stand by his promise to give the NHS whatever resources it needs to deal with the pandemic.
· Pharmacies have also been undertaking GP referrals remotely and face to face, reducing pressure on GP surgeries by around 20 million appointments.
· Mr Esterson’s Written Parliamentary Question to the Chancellor can be found copied below.
Full text of Written Parliamentary Question to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak:
· To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent representations he has received from the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee in respect of Advance Payments to pharmacies during the covid-19 pandemic.