By Alex Metcalfe
A pharmacy worker has sounded concerns about patients spreading coronavirus in the search for medicines.
Councillor Tina Large, who works at Whitworth Pharmacy, in Stockton, has been long hours to give Teessiders the medicines they need.
But she has raised worries about shortages of inhalers, Carbamazepine – a drug for treating epilepsy and neuropathic pain, and problems with patients hopping from pharmacy to pharmacy.
The member for Mandale and Victoria told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it was a problem at the start of this week and confirmed there were still shortages on Friday (April 17).
She said: “They are still going from pharmacy to pharmacy.
“The problem is doctors are having telephone conversations and sending people to pharmacies to pick them up and they’re looking for the medication.
“We’re inundated at the moment anyway – so some pharmacies are giving scripts back and sending them elsewhere when pharmacies should be ringing around to see who has stock.
“At the end of the day we’re all in the same boat – and pharmacies shouldn’t be sending people on.
“There has to be better communication.”
In response to the concern, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it has well established processes to manage a “small number of supply problems”.
It confirmed manufacturers of inhalers were seeing significant demand due to covid-19 – and conceded it may be taking longer for stocks of Clenil to be replenished.
But the department added it believed alternative brands of beclomethasone inhaler were still available.
A DHSC spokeswoman added: “We know how distressing shortages can be for patients but we want to assure people that we have well established processes to manage and mitigate supply problems.
“We are aware there has been a significant increase in demand across a number of inhaler presentations and we are working with suppliers to ensure supplies continue to remain available.
“Health care professionals and patients are reminded to only prescribe and order what they need during this time to ensure that all patients can continue to access their medicines.”
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)