The government’s decision to make face coverings compulsory in hospitals should be extended to pharmacies, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.
Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS, said it was “vital that there is consistency in the use of face coverings across primary care, as well as hospital settings, to provide maximum protection from the virus and avoid confusion”, adding that encouraging people who visit pharmacies to wear face coverings would act alongside social distancing and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to “help further protect staff and patients”.
Gidley also noted that the government must advise the public on the best type of face covering to use and how to wear it for maximum effect.
Official guidance states that pharmacy staff should wear fluid-resistant surgical masks when providing care for people with possible or confirmed COVID-19, when social distancing cannot be maintained. The guidance says that where social distancing is maintained, PPE in a pharmacy setting is not needed. However, the RPS has warned that many community pharmacies are unable to maintain the two-metre social distancing requirements.
The Society has also called for pharmacists to be given access to a government-run online portal, through which healthcare and social care professionals can order PPE. The portal is currently only open to GPs and small care homes.