Strength through adversity – A view from RPS in Wales

by Elen Jones, Director, RPS in Wales

I am bursting with pride right now. I’m proud to be a pharmacist. I am proud to be working with great colleagues to support the pharmacy profession during this public health emergency. Most of all, I am so extremely proud of the way in which pharmacy teams across the country are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The importance of pharmacy in patient care has never been so stark. The positive response, ingenuity and adaptation of pharmacy services to cope with the pressures of the pandemic has been nothing short of awe inspiring. We know how hard teams have been working to set up new services and adapting existing services in the light of covid, from the incredible work of setting up field hospitals right across Wales, to new approaches to ensuring patients requiring palliative care get the medication they need.

The increase in workload across the profession has been significant but rest assured the commitment of the profession is being recognised widely. I’ve been invited to speak on a number of radio programmes on behalf of the profession over the last few weeks, a number of which actually prompted by radio stations receiving letters of support and thanks to the profession from patients.

I have been saddened to hear about the minority of the public who have shown aggressive behaviour towards pharmacy teams, particularly in the community.  We have publicly expressed that this is not acceptable. We continue to take all opportunities to promote the profession through media and explain to the public the pressures facing pharmacy, asking for their support and patience. We have spoken to a number of Assembly members about this and are grateful to the many who have stepped up and publicly supported us.  We also continue to work with the police to ensure greater support and reassurance for community pharmacy.

"If there is one thing the pandemic has achieved, its focusing minds on what is critically important and what needs to be achieved at pace” 

We are listening to the concerns of our members, and working to address these concerns by lobbying and working with Welsh Government, Assembly members and NHS organisations on your behalf. Please keep checking our policy pages which we update regularly with the current key issues that we are lobbying on including access to appropriate PPE, priority testing of COVID-19 for pharmacy teams and solutions to minimise risks of medicines shortages.

We appreciate the practical and emotional impact that dealing with the coronavirus has on the profession. We are pleased that in Wales, following RPS campaigning, the Welsh Government has extended access to its Health for Health Professional Wales Service to all pharmacy professionals. We also hope that our Wellbeing and emotional support resources will also support the profession now and in the aftermath of this pandemic.

Each member of the pharmacy team is a critical key worker in this pandemic response. We have heard from many members about challenges in confirming this status for those who don’t have an NHS ID.  Our letters to confirm key worker status have been designed to support the profession with those practical issues of accessing priority shopping at supermarkets and ensuring child care. We continue to lobby government and raise the need for a longer term, official solution to this issue.

Many of you have got in touch with us to share such heart-warming and positive stories of how your teams are coming together, supporting each other and also forging new working relationships across local health boards or even other areas of practice to help improve the care of your patients.  We love to share these stories, they help boost morale and share best practice.  Please continue to share these great examples with us. Follow us on Twitter @RPS_Wales and on our Facebook page at for all the latest news.

A heartfelt thank you to all our pharmacy team members working across Wales and GB for your continued work and care for patients. Rest assured we remain committed to supporting you and your teams at this time.


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