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Immediate action needed on personal protective equipment

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is calling on the UK Government and devolved Parliaments to take immediate action on the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across all settings.

Despite the efforts of the Government many members of the public showing symptoms of COVID19 are still going into pharmacies and hospitals.

The current safeguards provided to pharmacists and their teams through guidance and access to PPE are unacceptable and need urgent attention.

Urgent updates to guidance on PPE use that reflect the circumstances in which pharmacists and their teams are working need to be made available immediately.

We recognise PPE is not a guarantee of preventing COVID-19 infection. We strongly advise pharmacists and their teams to follow national guidance on social distancing where possible. For example, allowing only one patient or customer into the pharmacy at any one time.

RPS President Sandra Gidley said:

“Pharmacists are key workers in the battle against this pandemic and patients are depending on us more than ever. They must be safeguarded if their services are going to be able to continue to function. If they are not protected sufficiently, not only would they not be able to work, but they could spread the virus amongst their patients and other healthcare colleagues.

"There is no reason why some pharmacies in the UK have no PPE, whereas others already have access. Adequate stock of PPE must be supplied to pharmacies across the UK and to all other NHS settings. 

“No pharmacist in any setting should be left wondering what to do if the coughing patient in front of them has COVID. Current PPE guidance assumes no one with COVID symptoms is coming to pharmacies or are on non-COVID hospital ward – this just isn’t the case. Guidance on PPE needs to change to reflect this real world situation.

“The Government and NHS have repeatedly tried to provide reassurance that adequate supplies of PPE are available to the pharmacy profession and that guidance is robust. This is not the reality experienced by our pharmacists across community, general practice and hospitals across the UK. This needs to change and change now.” 

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