Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Getting testing for my pharmacy team

by Jacinta Edgar, Pharmacy Manager at Kepple Lane Pharmacy

Kepple Lane Pharmacy in Lancashire has always been a busy place. Located within a large medical centre, we work closely with GPs, nurses and community teams to ensure we give the best patient care possible. It’s a manic place on any normal day but COVID-19 has taken it to a whole new level.

Our team does such an amazing job serving our local community on a daily basis, especially in these extraordinary circumstances. They deserve the best possible protection to allow us to carry out our roles, including regular testing.  

Unable to work

There have been cases throughout where staff who have either been exposed to the virus, waiting for a test or test results, have had to isolate themselves and therefore have been unable to work. One member of staff had to self-isolate for 2 weeks after his mother, who works on a hospital covid-19 ward, tested positive. Even just last week, 7 people were either isolating or off ill on one day!

Our pharmacists work in different shifts throughout the day. When someone suddenly phones in sick on a normal day, we can usually find a replacement very quickly. During this pandemic, it has been extremely hard to find locums who are taking future bookings.

Testing

Getting testing for staff has proven to be very difficult, particularly as we keep being told different things about where tests are available. And when you have to wait up to 48 hours for results, or the test comes back as unclear, it puts unnecessary pressure onto our members of staff to get back to work.

I’ve had colleagues who’ve been told that the nearest test for them is in Prestatyn, a good 200 round trip away, which not only is completely unfeasible but also scuppers our ability to work consistently in a team, as we lose a member who has to wait.

We’ve also had to stop our staff from getting the home test; purely because they take longer to process the results and can be less accurate, which isn’t as safe for my team. As we serve patients that come from lockdown areas in Preston and elsewhere, staff need reassurance that adequate testing is available within their area should they develop symptoms.

Safety

Despite having to source and fund our own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at the start of the pandemic, we’ve had a consistent flow of PPE and our staff feel safe within the dispensary. The services we provide, including this year’s flu vaccination programme, are also running smoothly. I’m so proud of my colleagues and to be working in pharmacy during COVID-19, serving patients and doing our bit during this crisis. But pharmacy teams cannot afford to be waiting long periods for vital tests to become available or for results to come back slowly during the second wave. 

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