Over-stretched pharmacies get permission to close for rest breaks

Healthwatch Reading spoke to Pharmacy Thames Valley on 24 March 2020 for an update on how to use local pharmacies.
Medicine infographic

Local pharmacies are dealing with five times their usual workload and now have government permission to close their doors for up to 2.5 hours per day, such as at lunchtimes, to allow staff to have a break and re-stock.

Long queues have been forming outside of pharmacies, due to the need to only let in a certain number of people at a time under social distancing rules, and the extra workload.

The government has announced it will bring in a free medicines delivery scheme for vulnerable people who have been asked by the NHS to ‘shield’ themselves via self-isolation for at least 12 weeks.

The delivery scheme is a safety back-stop for the most vulnerable, and will be for those who do not have healthy friends, family or neighbours to collect medication for them, or who cannot access delivery schemes run by local volunteers.

An online system was launched on 24 March 2020 for people to register for the 'extremely vulnerable person' scheme. 

Picking up prescriptions for other people

If you are a neighbour, friend or family picking up for someone else, you should:

  • have the name and address including postcode of the person you're collecting for
  • have your own ID if the pharmacist wants to check who you are

  • have contact details for the person if the pharmacist wants to check they gave you permission

  • phone the person in advance of you arriving back, leave the medication in a pre-agreed place (such as a door-step) move back two metres, and wait to witness you bringing the medication inside

  • NOT go to the pharmacy if your are unwell, in order to protect pharmacy staff and other people.

Local pharmacies do not yet have any information on when deliveries would begin under the government-run scheme, so please don’t phone them to ask, says Pharmacy Thames Valley.

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