The public is being urged to be patient with pharmacies as they try to cope with extra demands of coronavirus.
Healthwatch Reading has spoken to Pharmacy Thames Valley to find out what changes people can expect with prescription ordering, pick-ups and deliveries. David Dean, the chief officer of the organisation, which represents pharmacists in our area, said the first priority was to keep pharmacy staff healthy so they could keep their front-line services open for the public.
In particular he urged the public to follow government guidance on self-isolation and avoid visiting pharmacies if they had symptoms.
Advice to local people
- Be patient: It is taking longer to process prescriptions, so don’t leave ordering of repeat medications to the last minute and expect longer waits when picking up
- Don’t stockpile: Do not ask your doctor to prescribe more than usual, as GPs and pharmacies have formally agreed against this practice, to ensure ongoing supplies
- Stay away if you have symptoms: This helps keep pharmacy staff healthy
- Social distancing in stores: Pharmacies may be only letting in a small number of people in at a time, or getting staff to stay a safe distance from customers
- Electronic prescribing: GPs may try and add you to this system if you’re not on it now, so you don’t have to pick up a paper copy, and can get it sent direct to a chosen pharmacy
- Delivery services: Pharmacies are waiting to hear if they will get extra funding to offer more deliveries, as more of the population is forced to self-isolate
- Volunteers: Delivery services normally require DBS-checked staff or volunteers to make drop-offs but these rules may be relaxed in the future
- General supply of medicines: Preparations made previously for Brexit mean there is nationally a good supply of essential medicines
- Potential closures: Arrangements would be made to divert people to other pharmacies and/or get essential medicines delivered