Commenting on Keir Starmer’s call to deploy pharmacies to deliver a 24/7 vaccination programme, RPS President Sandra Gidley said:
“Pharmacy is of course keen to contribute to the national effort and is already involved in a big way in hospitals and GP led sites.
“RPS and other pharmacy organisations are working together with the Government to progress the role of community pharmacists in the Covid Vaccination Programme. It’s great news that a small number of large sites run by community pharmacies are opening from tomorrow and that two hundred are due to come online over the next fortnight.
“As the vaccination programme rolls out it’s eminently sensible to include more pharmacies where possible to increase the numbers of people who can get vaccinated. Local pharmacies are trusted by their communities and often at the heart of deprived areas where we face some of the biggest health challenges of all.
“We all want to see priority groups, including pharmacists and their teams, vaccinated as quickly as possible, but providing a 24/7 NHS vaccination service would be very challenging. Many thousands of NHS workers are ill with Covid or self-isolating, so staffing round-the-clock vaccinations would be an issue. The staff we do have are already working flat out and facing stress and burnout. Bringing more community pharmacies into the vaccination programme as it rolls out to increase capacity would seem a more logical option.
“It’s very encouraging to see the recognition from all parties of the vital role pharmacy is playing in delivering vaccinations and health services to the public during the pandemic.”