Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland is calling for people working in pharmacies to urgently test for COVID-19 infection.
Northern Ireland’s Health Committee raised the importance of testing to determine which community pharmacy team members can go to work and which ones need to self-isolate.
That practically may put pharmacy teams back to action -if tested negative for COVID-19- rather than self-isolate for 14 days.
While negotiations are in progress, pharmacies are already facing staffing issues due to infection concerns, and that the proportion will surely increase by time.
It is a fact that pharmacies in the region have been underfunded for several years and have little margin to play with to try and address staffing gaps.
Repeat prescribing role for pharmacists
The negotiator is also pushing for pharmacists to be given a greater role in repeat prescribing, so that bottlenecks in GP surgeries are reduced and medicine supplies are better managed, on a monthly basis.
Pharmacies are already facing increasing demands on their time and mounting costs such as staff, wholesaler bills and safety measures including new ’post office’ counters designed to promote distancing between patients and staff.
With priority on human health, medicines need to be addressed to people who need them most.
To achieve that, pharmacy teams need to stay safe and maintain their availability to the wider health service.
It is now critical that the community pharmacy network is supported financially to meet these costs and keep the service going during this huge effort to delay the spread of this disease.