Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.
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A third of pharmacists cannot obtain continuous supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a survey conducted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).
The survey found that 34% of respondents said they were not able to source continued supplies of PPE as they work in the face of COVID-19.
The poll of 445 pharmacists also revealed that 94% were unable to maintain social distancing of two metres from other staff in their pharmacy, mainly because the pharmacies — and the dispensaries in particular — were too small. A further 40% of respondents said they were unable to maintain social distancing of two metres from patients.
The results of the survey, which ran between 14 and 20 April 2020, have come after Public Health England (PHE) updated its PPE guidance on 10 April 2020, which recommends that pharmacy staff only wear fluid-resistant (type IIR) surgical masks (FRSMs) when in “contact with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19” and not around other pharmacy staff.
Commenting on the results, Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS, said: “[The Society] strongly recommends that everyone working in a pharmacy who is unable to maintain two metres social distance from either patients or other staff members should wear a FRSM.”
“We are still hearing too many examples where pharmacy teams are finding it difficult to source the PPE they need to keep them safe in line with our recommendations,” she said. “There should be no compromise on safety for pharmacy teams and PPE supplies to pharmacy need to reflect this.”
Gidley added that without sufficient PPE, “pharmacists and their staff could end up spreading the virus, as well as being unable to work because of sickness”.
“It is essential the government steps up and provides sufficient PPE to enable pharmacists to face the realities of working in a pharmacy during the pandemic,” she said.
Pharmacists have previously told The Pharmaceutical Journal that they have been unable to access PPE for their staff, with others saying the PHE guidance has been “based on an armchair view of what community pharmacy is and does”.