RPS: Pharmacy must be at heart of second wave Covid plans

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RPS: Pharmacy must be at heart of second wave Covid plans

 

Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Sandra Gidley has warned pharmacy “must be at the heart” of any planning for a second wave of Covid-19 infections this winter.

Fears are increasing that the pandemic, which has claimed 44,830 lives and led to 290,133 cases of infection in the UK so far, could see a resurgence following the government’s decision to relax restrictions and allow pubs, restaurants and cafes to reopen.

A report by the Academy of Medical Sciences warns the UK must prepare now for another wave of infections this winter “that could be more serious than the first.”

Ms Gidley insisted the report underlined “why pharmacy must be at the heart of preparations for a potential second wave” of the virus and suggested pharmacies should be involved in the roll-out of antibody testing in local communities.

“If the government is to achieve its ambition for the ‘biggest flu vaccine programme in history,’ it must involve pharmacy across Great Britain in delivering it,” she said.

“Pharmacies can also support the rollout of antibody testing to establish what proportion of the population has been infected with the virus.

“Decisions are urgently needed on how we continue supporting shielded patients in the event of a second wave, such as through a medicines delivery service, which is due to end this month.”

Ms Gidley also urged the government to consider how patients with the disease “are referred between care settings," how pharmacies will be funded if the situation changes dramatically for the worse and how the physical and mental health of pharmacy teams can be supported.

“Whether it’s flu vaccinations, dealing with local lockdowns or planning for a potential second wave, the sooner we get decisions from Government and the NHS, the more time pharmacy teams and the health service will have to prepare,” she said.

“For all this to be provided safely, health and care staff in all care settings must have plentiful supplies of PPE and rapid access to testing.

“We also agree with the report’s recommendation that health and care staff will need continued support for their own health and wellbeing.

“If the enormous mental and physical strain of the past few months is repeated ahead of this winter, the health service will be on its knees.”

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