Community Pharmacists urge public co-operation as pandemic second lockdown grips Northern Ireland

Community Pharmacists urge public co-operation as pandemic second lockdown grips Northern Ireland

The body that represents community pharmacists in Northern Ireland is once again calling on the public to work with local community pharmacies as part of the health service’s response to the second COVID wave.

Community Pharmacy NI says an expanded range of measures and services have been put in place at local community pharmacies to help manage the increased flow of patients and greater demand placed upon the health service because of the pandemic.

The body is also reminding the public to co-operate and be patient with local community pharmacy teams as they are working at maximum capacity to deal with increased numbers of patients needing medicines and advice.

That includes asking the public not to stockpile medicines and to use them wisely so that supplies can be safely managed. In addition, there may be longer waiting times and more social-distancing measures introduced to ensure safety for both staff and patients. Community pharmacists have expanded their range of existing services to include the provision of the flu vaccine for health and social care workers, the Emergency Supply service as well as the return of initiatives like Pharmacy First to treat seasonal illnesses like sore throat and common cold.

Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI, Gerard Greene said:

“Once again, as the virus takes grip, community pharmacies remain open and ready to deal with COVID-19 and work to ensure all our patients are supported with the correct medicines and assured advice they need.

“As with the first wave, we are reaching out to the public, asking them to please be patient and mindful. Our community pharmacy teams are working around the clock to ensure the safe supply of medicines and sound assistance is given to all. Pharmacies have the necessary PPE and measures in place to ensure we can stay open and serve our communities.

“Having come through the first wave the health service has a better understanding of what to expect and pharmacy teams are equipped with the knowledge and know-how to deal with the increasing demand. New initiatives such as the Emergency Supply service, ensures that patients can access an urgent supply of their regular prescription medicine allowing members of our communities to access the healthcare they need at a convenient location and freeing up GP surgeries and Emergency Departments.

“The recent return of the Pharmacy First Winter Ailments service offers patients the opportunity to access a consultation with a highly trained healthcare professional for advice and treatment for common winter conditions. This will relieve some of the winter pressures facing our health colleagues in other settings, allowing them to focus on other aspects associated with COVID and other conditions.”

Mr Greene added:

“We would also remind the public of some safety measures to ensure safety for all. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms – that is a high temperature, persistent new cough, or loss of taste and smell – should not come into a pharmacy and should self-isolate. Please remember to wear a face covering when visiting a community pharmacy”

“At this time, it is hugely important that we all work together to get through this health crisis. The community pharmacy network is working with colleagues in primary care, Health and Social Care Board and the Department to help alleviate pressures in the wider Health and Social Care system. Again, I would ask the public to co-operate and be patient with local community pharmacy teams as they work hard to ensure patients receive the essential medicines and trusted guidance they need.”

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