Royal Pharmaceutical Society

My frontline pharmacy experiences

by Ravi Sharma, RPS Director for England

Reflecting on my work on the frontline over the past two weekends in a pharmacy close to home I felt the intensity of work had tripled from the norm.

The commitment shown by my colleagues in the pharmacy is phenomenal and I am hearing this from across the board in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Pharmacists as this time need to be well supported and take good rest breaks. It's important for their mental health and wellbeing than some down time is factored into their day. 

The public generally this weekend were very polite and patient and adhered to the social distancing rules that have been put in place. Queuing on both days was orderly and stretched for quite a distance outside of the pharmacy. 

Having experienced good behaviour in this pharmacy, I am also hearing that this is not the experience everywhere, with some members of the public being abusive and aggressive to pharmacists and their teams. I ask pharmacists to report such incidents to the police and to adopt a zero tolerance to this type of behaviour. 

At the moment I work in both general practice and community pharmacy. While the two places right now are different in relation to face-to-face contact, pharmacy teams across the NHS are experiencing their own very real pressures. From the sheer volume of prescription requests, queries, sorting out periodisation groups and increasing eRD, to checking prescriptions, making sure medicines are safe to issue, sorting out and sourcing medicines, providing healthcare advice on the counter and myth busting in community.

I would like to thank pharmacists and their staff for the incredible work they are doing in helping to keep the public safe and fighting the COVID 19 virus

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Your dedication and commitment during the pandemic has been exceptional.

As we brace for a surge of coronavirus infections, we know that pharmacy will be at the forefront of delivering healthcare.

Whether it’s flu vaccinations or dealing with local lockdowns we need decisions and assurances from the Government to make sure our profession can cope. We must make sure pharmacists get enough supplies of PPE, rapid access to testing in all care settings, and the recognition you deserve.

You told us that our leadership and resources during in the early months of the pandemic were of critical importance. We are now updating our highly valued COVID-19 resources and training webinars to make sure they reflect current - and changing - guidance.

If the enormous mental and physical strain of the past few months is repeated ahead of this winter, the health service will be on its knees. We will be there to make sure pharmacists get mental health and wellbeing support.

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