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‘Covid positive community pharmacy staff in Scotland will not attend work for five days’

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The community pharmacy staff in Scotland will not be required to work for a minimum of five full days if they test positive for Covid-19.

The Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf has clarified that health and social care employees, including community pharmacists, will have to follow the guidance on managing staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection, or a positive Covid-19 test.

While responding to Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Scottish Labour Party) written parliamentary question, Humza said, “If they work with patients or service users in face-to-face settings, they can return to work if they have had two consecutive negative LFD test results (taken at least 24 hours apart).”

Jackie asked the Scottish government, “what its position is on the actions of Well Pharmacy, in light of reports that the company is insisting that staff who test positive for COVID-19 continue to work when they are in patient-facing roles and dealing with clinically vulnerable people?”

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association said: “This means that Well pharmacy will have to change their policy in Scotland and no longer allow Covid positive staff to work in their pharmacies.”

In April 2022, the PDA reported that Well Pharmacy, one of the country’s largest pharmacy chains had confirmed to the PDA that they were operating a policy that allowed members of staff who have a positive Covid-19 test to work in their pharmacies.

The PDA sought clarification from the pharmacy business after several members raised concerns that symptomatic employees with a confirmed Covid-19 infection are being allowed to attend the pharmacy. The pharmacy superintendent then confirmed that this was in line with company policy. This policy permitted those currently unwell with Covid-19 to work in patient facing roles with clinically vulnerable patients and colleagues, in what should be considered a safe healthcare setting.

“The parliamentary answer supports the earlier PDA comments that the policy of this pharmacy multiple was at odds with the NHS Guidance on Managing healthcare staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection or a positive COVID-19 test result,” the Association said.

The PDA are now calling on Well Pharmacy to urgently and publicly confirm they have amended their policy and will now follow the NHS guidelines across all of their operations throughout the UK.  It further added: “This confirmation is critical for employed and locum pharmacists who may be Responsible Pharmacists in Well pharmacies, as well as for their teams and patients.”

Last week, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) also recommended that pharmacists and pharmacy staff should follow Covid-19 infection control procedures including self isolation.

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