Royal Pharmaceutical Society

PPE – We can all spread COVID-19

Blog article by Sandra Gidley, RPS President

Pharmacists and their teams across the healthcare system are at the forefront of the UK response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Here at RPS we are proud and grateful for the work pharmacy teams are doing supporting patients and the public.

Your protection is essential and we have been working to get you what you need. Access to protective personal equipment (PPE) has been raising issues over many weeks and continues to do so. We have been disappointed with the lack of decisive action taken to make sure pharmacy teams have what they need – an adequate supply of Fluid Resistant Surgical Masks (FRSM) for use when you and your teams are unable to maintain 2m social distance from each other and your patients.

Things are improving, admittedly. But, far too slowly and with too much variation across England, Scotland and Wales.

The launch of new guidance for PPE supported by all four nations was a positive step forward and provided clarity for pharmacists working in a range of settings. The differing interpretations of what this meant in community pharmacy was less positive. We at RPS are VERY clear and stand by our interpretation; everyone working in front line pharmacy who is not able to maintain 2m social distance from either patients and the public, or other staff members is recommended to wear FRSM. Any other interpretation which relies on a premise that fellow pharmacy team members are somehow immune or are not able to spread COVID-19 whilst symptom free continues to put pharmacy staff at unacceptable increased risk.

Our advice for hardworking pharmacy teams; keep 2m social distance wherever possible (even when you’re wearing a mask), wash your hand regularly and thoroughly, clean counters and surfaces regularly, and use an FRSM if you cannot maintain 2m social distance between patients and team members.

Supplies must be made available to ensure this happens and pharmacists should not be having to spend time (and money) sourcing them when they should be helping patients.

Pharmacy teams are the NHS frontline response to COVID19, both through safe supply of vital medicines and providing valuable healthcare advice and support to patients, the public and fellow health care professionals. Your protection against covid19 is essential and we’re making sure it’s further up the agenda for governments across Britain.  

You are doing a phenomenal job our #pharmacyheroes. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Please see our latest PPE FAQ section on our website for more information.

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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.

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We will continue to work hard to give you the tools and guidance to do your job safely. And fight to make sure you get the recognition you deserve.
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