Patients and the public urged to only order the medicines they normally need and to treat high street pharmacy teams with respect

Patients and the public are being urged to only order the medicines they normally need and to treat high street pharmacy workers with respect as they deliver vital support on the NHS frontline in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19).

Local pharmacy chiefs say they are incredibly thankful to the overwhelming majority of patients and customers who respect the challenges being faced at the present time. However, the behaviour of a small minority can be upsetting to staff working tirelessly to maintain services.

Members of the public are asked to:

  • Avoid pharmacies if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19): If you have a dry, persistent cough, fever or shortness of breath, please don’t go to your local pharmacy.
  • Be patient: All pharmacies are under immense pressure and working around the clock to ensure that you get what you need.
  • Respect pharmacy staff: they are providing NHS services and deserve the same respect as any other frontline NHS worker.
  • Order medicines and purchase products as normal: there are enough medicines for everyone, so long as everyone orders the prescriptions and buys the medicines they really need. Trying to buy too much causes problems for more vulnerable people in our communities.

Because of coronavirus (COVID-19) pharmacies are having to take a number of steps to ensure that they can continue to supply the medicines and products that people need, including:

  • Operating on a closed-door basis at some points during the day. This allows pharmacy teams to dispense medicines safely and to meet unprecedented demand for prescription medicines.
  • Restricting the supply of some products including paracetamol, hand sanitisers and formula milk. This is to ensure that everyone can have supplies.
  • Asking customers and patients to keep 2m (6 feet) away from other people when inside the pharmacy and if they are required to queue outside.

Michael Dennis, Head of Medicines Optimisation at NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Like all parts of the NHS, community pharmacies are facing huge challenges as a result of COVID-19. Due to the increasing pressures on them, many pharmacies are having to take steps to cope with the increase in demand and to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.”

Tony Dean, Chief Officer of Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC), said: “We are hugely grateful to the overwhelming majority of our patients and customers who are respectful of the challenges we are facing, and who show gratitude to our teams. However, sadly the challenging behaviour of a small minority is extremely upsetting to hard-working staff who are putting themselves at risk to maintain services. Our ask is that the public respect these decisions and support our pharmacy teams at this challenging time.”