HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 21 April 2021
BBC News, 21 April 2021
BBC News reports that according to a poll commissioned by BBC NI’s Spotlight programme it is widely believed on both sides that Northern Ireland will leave the UK within 25 years.
The poll showed that in Northern Ireland 49% of people would vote to remain in the UK, with 43% backing a united Ireland and 8% undecided.
The poll was carried out during the Easter period when there was controversy in Northern Ireland surrounding the Northern Ireland trade protocol and the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s handling of a republican funeral during the pandemic.
In Northern Ireland, 76% of those surveyed agreed that “the dispute over Northern Ireland’s status remains unresolved and there is still a potential for violence in the future”. In the Republic 87% agreed with this statement.
48% in Northern Ireland suggested that they want the controversial trade protocol introduced as part of the UK’s EU Withdrawal Agreement to be removed, in line with demands from the DUP and other unionist parties. Unionists believe that the protocol threatens the constitutional integrity of the UK.
Irish Prime Minister, Micheál Martin said that the protocol was not tearing the UK apart, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson is working to “sandpaper” away what he has described as the “ludicrous barriers” to trade across the Irish Sea.
Pharmaceutical Journal, Carolyn Wickware, 20 April 2021
The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that according to the Government over 90% of community pharmacies in England are now distributing free rapid lateral flow tests as part of the Pharmacy Collect service.
This service was added to the pharmacy contract on 29th March 2021 and community pharmacies who signed up to provide the service by 18th April 2021 were able to claim £200. The Pharmacy Collect service comes after months of confusion around whether pharmacies should be allowed to provide rapid tests for the virus.
On 19th April 2021, Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said that Pharmacy Collect service had been rolled out “to over nine in ten pharmacies”, in order to provide more testing for asymptomatic patients.
The service allows patients to collect one box of seven test kits free of charge which are then self-administered by the patient. Pharmacies are paid £1.50 plus VAT per box of seven test kits distributed, in addition to a one-off set-up fee of £250.
Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS services at the PSNC, said that “The fact that in a matter of days, well over 90% of pharmacies have signed up to provide the service is a testament to the commitment of pharmacy teams up and down the country to support their local communities.
This was also reported by Pharmacy Business.
There was no parliamentary coverage today.
BBC News, 21 April 2021
A majority of people on both sides of the Irish border believes Northern Ireland will have left the UK within 25 years, a poll suggests.
Most respondents said they thought NI would still be part of the UK in 10 years time, but not in 25 years.
In NI, 49% of people said if there was a border poll today they would vote to remain in the UK, with 43% backing a united Ireland and 8% undecided.
The poll was commissioned by BBC NI’s Spotlight programme.
In the Republic of Ireland, where a vote would have to be held in parallel with any border poll in Northern Ireland, 51% said they would vote for a United Ireland, 27% would vote for Northern Ireland to stay in the UK and 22% were not sure.
When asked if they thought NI woud be part of the UK in 10 years, 55% in NI and 59% in the Republic of Ireland said they thought it would be.
But when asked if this would be the case in 25 years, 51% of people in NI and 54% in the Republic said NI would have left the UK.
The poll also suggested that only 40% of people in Northern Ireland saw its formation 100 years ago as a cause for celebration.
Most people on both sides of the Irish border believed there was a potential for a return to political violence in Northern Ireland, according to the poll.
The poll was carried out over the Easter period when clashes were taking place in a number of areas across Northern Ireland, sparked by loyalist anger over the Northern Ireland trade protocol and the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s handling of a republican funeral during the pandemic.
Of those surveyed in Northern Ireland, 76% agreed with the proposition that “the dispute over Northern Ireland’s status remains unresolved and there is still a potential for violence in the future”.
In the Republic, an even higher proportion, 87%, echoed that view.
A total of 48% of those surveyed in Northern Ireland told the pollsters they want the controversial trade protocol introduced as part of the UK’s EU Withdrawal Agreement scrapped, in line with demands from the DUP and other unionist parties, while 46% wanted the protocol to be retained.
Unionists have claimed the protocol, which requires checks on goods moving across the Irish Sea from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, threatens the constitutional integrity of the UK.
Interviewed for the Spotlight programme, Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin insisted the protocol was not tearing the UK apart, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was working to “sandpaper” away what he described as the “ludicrous barriers” to trade across the Irish Sea.
In the Republic, a majority of those surveyed supported the Irish government’s defence of the trade protocol, with 74% saying it should not be scrapped.
Although within Northern Ireland a larger number of people rejected the trade protocol than backed it, the poll also provided an indication that a majority wants to retain some form of economic link with the EU.
Some 56% of those surveyed in Northern Ireland told the pollsters that they wanted their assembly members (MLAs) to vote to stay within the EU Single Market when the matter is put to a vote at Stormont in three years’ time.
Only 38% indicated they wanted to leave the EU Single Market.
In Northern Ireland 37% of people surveyed told the pollsters they would like to see a border poll within the next five years, whilst a further 29% want it to happen at some point after that.
However the prime minister told the Spotlight programme that he cannot see any Northern Ireland secretary considering a border poll for a “very, very long time to come”.
The prime minister told BBC Northern Ireland that as “a proud unionist” he views the centenary of Northern Ireland’s formation as a cause for celebration.
However only 40% of the people surveyed agreed with the proposition that “the formation of Northern Ireland 100 years ago was an achievement which should be celebrated”, while 45% disagreed with the statement.
Outright celebration of the centenary turned out to be the least popular of five options included in the survey.
In Northern Ireland, 48% agreed that the partition of Ireland and the creation of a land border 100 years ago was “a negative development which should be regretted”.
A total of 50% wanted to concentrate on current challenges such as the Covid pandemic rather than the centenary, whilst 61% backed marking Northern Ireland’s formation in a neutral manner acknowledging the differing opinions on the subject.
The same proportion, 61%, agreed with the statement “Northern Ireland’s history is not just about constitutional politics and the centenary should provide an opportunity to showcase its sporting, business, scientific and cultural achievements”.
In the Republic, celebrating the formation of Northern Ireland was even more unpopular with just 12% agreeing with the proposition.
The most popular options were marking this year’s centenary in a neutral manner, which was favoured by 74% of those surveyed and regretting partition – a view 71% agreed with.
The poll commissioned by BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme was carried out by the NI Pollsters LucidTalk and the Irish polling firm Ireland Thinks.
- In Northern Ireland polling was carried out online between 5 and 7 April and 2,845 responses were used for the analysis.
- In the Republic of Ireland polling took place between 6 and 9 April and 1,088 responses were analysed.
The margin of error is +/- 2.5%.
The results from a number of other questions in the survey regarding what should happen to the Irish flag, national anthem, the Stormont Executive and the health service in the event of a United Ireland will be released on BBC Northern Ireland’s political programme The View on Thursday night.
Full details of the poll will be available via the BBC NI news website and other BBC news and current affairs programmes during the course of the week.
Pharmaceutical Journal, Carolyn Wickware, 20 April 2021
The Pharmacy Collect service, which allows patients to collect rapid lateral flow test kits free of charge, has been rolled out to more than 90% of community pharmacies.
More than 90% of community pharmacies in England are now distributing free rapid lateral flow tests as part of the Pharmacy Collect service, the government has said.
The service was added to the pharmacy contract as an advanced service on 29 March 2021, with community pharmacies able to claim £200 if they signed up to provide the service by 18 April 2021.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, told MPs on 19 April 2021 that Pharmacy Collect had been rolled out “to over nine in ten pharmacies”, providing an additional route to the twice-weekly testing for asymptomatic patients promised by the government.
As part of the service, patients can collect one box of seven test kits free of charge. The tests are then self-administered by the patient, away from the pharmacy.
Pharmacies are paid £1.50 plus VAT per box of seven test kits distributed, in addition to a one-off set-up fee of £250.
Pharmacies were initially told in the service specification that there would be an initial weekly order limit of 12 cartons — or 2 cartons per day — which would be kept under review.
However, on 9 April 2021, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said supplies were being limited to one carton per day “to support the equitable distribution of tests to all the community pharmacies that have signed up to provide the service”.
The Department of Health and Social Care later said on 19 April 2021 that it was “aware that some pharmacies are unable to immediately order test kits”.
“Stock is being replenished to wholesalers on a daily basis with deliveries being made to pharmacies within a matter of days in order to meet demand.”
Commenting on the number of pharmacies now offering the service, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the PSNC, said the response had been “even better than we had predicted”.
“The fact that in a matter of days, well over 90% of pharmacies have signed up to provide the service is a testament to the commitment of pharmacy teams up and down the country to support their local communities,” he said.
“Distributing test kits is a great way for the accessibility of community pharmacies and the relationships their teams have with the local community to be used to help the nation’s COVID-19 recovery effort, including supporting less well-served groups of the population.”
Hancock later added in a statement that pharmacies “will play a key role in our rapid testing programme, which is a vital tool in reopening society in the months ahead”.
“I have been delighted at the level of interest and how fast the response has been from pharmacies to take part, with nine in ten registering to offer rapid test kits within ten days,” he said.
“The testing only takes 30 minutes and will help people stop the spread of the virus — protecting families and communities and saving lives.”
COVID-19 testing in community pharmacies
The Pharmacy Collect service comes after months of confusion around whether pharmacies should be allowed to provide rapid tests for the virus.
Public Health England had initially said in May 2020 that rapid point-of-care COVID-19 tests, such as lateral flow antigen tests, should not be used in community pharmacy, owing to a lack of information on their accuracy. The guidance was later overturned in February 2021 for patients with symptoms, following a review of evidence.
But despite the guidance at the time, in October 2020, Boots published plans to roll out a rapid point-of-care antigen test for asymptomatic COVID-19 patients — an announcement that the General Pharmaceutical Council said it would “follow up”.
NHS England later announced in November 2020 that it would be piloting the supply of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction antigen tests to patients in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
Elsewhere, at the end of 2020, pharmacies in Dudley began providing lateral flow tests to patients, receiving £10 per test. The scheme, provided with the help of Central Health Solutions, was also launched in Birmingham, Worcestershire, Telford and Wrekin, Stoke-on-Trent, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
The Pharmaceutical Journal, April 2021;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.78967
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