A worker in protective clothing cleans the floor of the pharmacy attached to the Warmdene doctor's Surgery at County Oak Medical Centre in Brighton, southern England on February 10, 2020, after it closed following reports a member of staff was infected with Covid-19. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called on the UK Government and devolved Parliaments to immediately provide personal protective equipment (PPE) across all settings, including pharmacies.

Public showing symptoms of COVID19 are still going into pharmacies and hospitals, RPS noted.

“Current PPE guidance assumes no one with COVID symptoms is coming to pharmacies or are on non-COVID hospital ward – this just isn’t the case. Guidance on PPE needs to change to reflect this real world situation,” Sandra Gidley, RPS president, said.

“There is no reason why some pharmacies in the UK have no PPE, whereas others already have access. Adequate stock of PPE must be supplied to pharmacies across the UK and to all other NHS settings.”

RPS has asked for urgent updates to guidance on PPE use, incorporating the circumstances pharmacists and their teams work.

“The Government and NHS have repeatedly tried to provide reassurance that adequate supplies of PPE are available to the pharmacy profession and that guidance is robust. This is not the reality experienced by our pharmacists across community, general practice and hospitals across the UK. This needs to change and change now,” Gidley said.

She warned that the virus could spread through pharmacies if adequate protective measures are not taken.

“Pharmacists are key workers in the battle against this pandemic and patients are depending on us more than ever. They must be safeguarded if their services are going to be able to continue to function. If they are not protected sufficiently, not only would they not be able to work, but they could spread the virus amongst their patients and other healthcare colleagues.

“No pharmacist in any setting should be left wondering what to do if the coughing patient in front of them has COVID.”

RPS has also requested pharmacists to follow national guidance on social distancing where possible.

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