Pharmacists ‘unable to maintain social distancing’ at work and risk infection

A new snapshot survey of pharmacists from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society shows that the majority of pharmacists are unable to maintain social distancing at work and one in three still can’t get continuous supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

A huge 94% of respondents said they were unable to maintain 2m social distancing from other staff in their workplace. This is because pharmacies, and their dispensaries in particular, are often small and simply don’t allow for social distancing. Another 40% of respondents said they were unable to maintain social distancing from patients.

In addition to the practical difficulties they face, 34% of respondents said they are unable to source continuous supplies of PPE to protect themselves from potential infection by the public or colleagues at work.

RPS President Sandra Gidley said:

“It’s clear the vast majority of frontline pharmacy teams are unable to maintain safe social distancing either from staff or patients. They must have access to PPE to protect themselves, their patients and their families.

“We strongly recommend that everyone working in a pharmacy who is unable to maintain 2m social distance from either patients or other staff members should wear a fluid resistant surgical mask.

‘We are still hearing too many examples where pharmacy teams are finding it difficult to source the PPE they need to keep them safe in line with our recommendations. There should be no compromise on safety for pharmacy teams and PPE supplies to pharmacy need to reflect this. 

“Pharmacy teams are essential in the battle against this pandemic and patients are depending on us more than ever. Teams must be safeguarded if pharmacy services are going to be able to continue to function.

“If they are insufficiently protected, pharmacists and their staff could end up spreading the virus, as well as being unable to work because of sickness. It is essential the Government steps up and provides sufficient PPE to enable pharmacists to face the realities of working in a pharmacy during the pandemic.”

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