Health services in Wales to receive extra £550m to cover COVID-19 costs

The Welsh government plans to spend £411m on pandemic-related costs, such as PPE and vaccinations, until April 2022, while £140m will be spent on tackling treatment waiting times.
A queue maintaining safe social distancing outside the local pharmacy in the small Welsh town of Presteigne, Powys, Wales

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Health and social care services in Wales will receive an additional £551m to cover costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Welsh government has announced.

In response, community pharmacy representatives in Wales have said they expect some of the additional money to go towards pharmacies participating in the COVID-19 booster vaccination programme.

The Welsh government said £411m of the funding will cover ongoing costs of the pandemic until April 2022, including personal protective equipment, testing and the vaccination programme. The remaining £140m will be spent on tackling waiting lists for treatment, which had increased to more than 600,000 patients at the end of May 2021, the highest number since comparable data were first collected in 2011.

In the announcement, made on 19 August 2021, Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said the pandemic has “had a massive impact on the NHS and social services in Wales and is still facing significant costs in dealing with it”.

“I am therefore pleased to confirm an extra £411m for these costs, including the vaccination programme, testing, PPE, and new cleaning standards for infection control,” she said.

“I recognise it is a huge task just to get back to where we were before the pandemic. However, we must also grasp this opportunity to adopt new ways of working and create a sustainable health and social care system that can meet the demands of the future.”

Judy Thomas, director of contractor services at Community Pharmacy Wales, which represents pharmacy owners in Wales, said that funding for “health and social care in relation to COVID-19 is always welcome”.

“Several community pharmacies have played a leading role in providing vaccines for COVID-19, and a large number are interested in being involved in the booster vaccine programme.

“We anticipate that any community pharmacies who are commissioned to participate in the booster vaccine programme would have their participation funded through this additional sum announced.”

As of April 2021, health boards in Wales had commissioned nearly 20 community pharmacies to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

However, around half of pharmacies in some health boards have expressed an interest to participate in the vaccination programme when it first started in early 2021.

In March 2021, it was announced that community pharmacies in Wales would be granted a total of £9.1m to cover their costs incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: COVID-19 booster campaign: everything we know so far

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, August 2021;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.101403