By Lucy Ashton
A pharmacist has urged people to support their local independent pharmacies as he warns coronavirus and seasonal flu could be an overwhelming combination in autumn.
During the lockdown, Totley Pharmacy on Baslow Road in Sheffield extended its opening hours with staff starting an hour early, working through lunch and staying open on the bank holiday.
But pharmacist Tajinder Singh says community pharmacies receive little support or acknowledgement from the government, despite being the first line of defence in the NHS.
And he warns small independent pharmacies are at risk of closing if customers revert back to supermarkets after the lockdown.
“People have been utterly fantastic and the community support has been great,” he said.
“People set up voluntary groups, shopped for each other and helped with our deliveries but my concern is, if things go back to normal, people will end up going back to the supermarkets.
“Coronavirus will come again in November, as well as the normal flu season we have every year, and the next time you need your local chemist, it might not be there.
“I can assure you that pharmacies are very much on the borderline and many were close to closing before this because they have been hugely underfunded by the government, regardless of which party has been in power.
“Pharmacies are the first line of defence and by November there may not be many of them left if people go back to the supermarkets.”
Singh, who has been in Totley for 24 years, says independent pharmacies stayed open during lockdown while some big chains closed.
“Our Easter rush lasted for five weeks, it’s been incredible. This wasn’t to make extra money but because the customers needed us. We’ve also donated PPE and hand sanitiser to St Luke’s Hospice.
“We could really do with some support as the focus on the NHS is very much about nurses, not even GPs.
“We do so much but tend to be ignored. We do a lot of unseen work to keep people away from hospitals but no one mentions pharmacies at all.”
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)