Isolation, holiday and increased demand among pressures on pharmacies

The queue at the pharmacy as only one person is allowed in the shop at one time during the Coronavir

Norfolk pharmacies have also seen challenges due to staff having to self isolate. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Norfolk pharmacies are facing high levels of pressure and at times the "last resort" to close as they juggle staff shortages and high demand.

Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee (Norfolk LPC) which represents all 158 community pharmacies in the region said there were three factors impacting community sites nationally, with the main reason of staff having to isolate. 

There has also been a demand for pharmacists across the healthcare system outside of community pharmacy and staff on holiday having carried over their leave due to the pandemic.  

Laura Seamons, Norfolk LPC's deputy chief officer, said owners across large scale and independent pharmacies had seen growing pressures in the last three to six months but it was a "last resort" to close sites.

She said: "It is a knock on effect of the three things coming together at the same time. 


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"As always, our priority is supporting pharmacies to deliver the best possible care to their patients and communities.

"Our priority is patient safety and patient care."

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Well Pharmacy group has seen long queues at its Diss premise, in Mere Street, last week after a number of staff members had to self isolate as well its Brundall pharmacy forced to close due to staff shortages. 

A group spokesman said the site's pharmacist had been pinged by the NHS app and was awaiting a negative PCR test, and with no additional cover resulted in the pharmacy to shut for a day.

It reopened on Thursday as under legislation, a pharmacy cannot trade without a pharmacist. 

A Well Pharmacy spokesman said: "Community pharmacy is experiencing significant resourcing challenges, especially for community pharmacists within the primary care sector, and this is particularly acute in East Anglia.

"Closing any of our pharmacies at any time is always a last resort for Well, and where it is possible we will share the pharmacist from a nearby pharmacy to work part of the day in each pharmacy, in order to provide a service to the local community."

Toftwood's branch of Lloyd's Pharmacy, on Chapel Lane, had to close earlier this week due to "unforeseen circumstances". 

In the case of such closure, teams will place signage in the window to explain what has happened and why and information towards the closest pharmacist. 

Patients can also search the NHS website to search for their closest pharmacist at https://www.nhs.uk/service-search. 

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