Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley has urged the government to consult pharmacists during its preparations for the winter season and ensure its plans have a “clear pharmacy focus".
Ahead of a flu season widely anticipated to be busier than usual, and with the potential for a second spike of Covid-19, concerns have been raised around the pressures the NHS will face this winter.
Ms Gidley (pictured) said pharmacies, which have played a central role during the pandemic, must be included in the health service's winter planning.
“Urgent action is needed to prepare for the winter and we now need assurances from governments and the NHS that plans will have a clear pharmacy focus. To achieve this, pharmacists must be represented and heard in winter pressures planning processes and decisions,” she said.
Ms Gidley said any plans “must map out how community pharmacy can continue to deliver essential routine services” and allow pharmacy teams to help “manage local and regional outbreaks of the Covid-19 virus".
She also said the government needed to ensure the physical and mental well-being of pharmacy teams this winter, with concerns around issues like inadequate PPE and burnout having been raised throughout the crisis.
The RPS is calling for all pharmacy teams to have access to "culturally and gender sensitive PPE which ensures the whole pharmacy team can feel safe in their daily practice".
“Throughout the pandemic the resilience of pharmacy teams has been tested to the limit. Protecting pharmacy teams against the risks of burn-out and ensuring that mental health and wellbeing support services are available must be part of those plans,” Ms Gidley said.
“Above all, there must be assurances that all frontline pharmacists are protected from the risks of virus transmission while Covid-19 continues to circulate so they can continue to deliver effective patient care.”