Prince Charles speaks during a reception at St James's Palace, London, Britain May 04, 2022. Eamonn M. McCormack/Pool via REUTERS

Prince Charles has praised the “dedication and professionalism of pharmacy staff” at an event held in London to celebrate the work of community pharmacists during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two hundred pharmacists, pharmacy staff and other health service representatives were invited to attend a special reception hosted by His Royal Highness at St James’s Palace on Wednesday night (May 4).

According to the National Pharmacy Association, the event was held, in part, to mark the NPA’s recent centenary.

In his closing speech, The Prince of Wales paid tribute to the work of pharmacies on the NHS frontline.

He praised “the dedication and professionalism of pharmacy staff” during the Covid-19 pandemic and said: “I very much hope that this evening’s event will help, a little bit, to highlight the marvellous work you do in your communities day in and day out.”

Prince Charles continued: “And, if I may also say so, it is truly inspiring to know that this gathering includes people from so many of the different backgrounds that make up the pharmacy workforce today. Yours may be an ancient profession, but it certainly reflects modern Britain in all its splendid diversity.

(L to R) Pharmacist Raj Aggarwal, executive director of Sigma Pharmaceutical Hatul Shah and Sigma founder Bharat Shah with Prince Charles at a reception to celebrate community pharmacy at St James’s Palace in London on May 5.

“At the same time, you are a very familiar fixture in the nation’s high streets and neighbourhoods – something that people have come to rely on and value tremendously over generations. As well as providing prompt access to advice and treatment, of course the great thing is you are also a friendly and reassuring presence in our communities.  A place where science, as it were, meets society.

“As I have said once before, pharmacies are about people and places, not just pills.”

His Royal Highness was introduced to guests by NPA chair Andrew Lane and NPA board member Raj Aggarwal OBE.

Andrew Lane said afterwards: “It was a privilege to meet The Prince of Wales and to be amongst so many great pharmacy colleagues at this very special event. His Royal Highness was very interested in what we do for our communities and he really gets what we are all about as a profession.”

Leading pharmacist and an NPA board member, Raj Aggarwal OBE, said he was “struck by the way His Royal Highness recognised” the work pharmacy staff do behind the scenes, which often goes unnoticed.

At the event the Prince of Wales recognised the work of pharmacists across the United Kingdom, in the light of their extraordinary contribution during the coronavirus pandemic. It was held, in part, to mark the National Pharmacy Association’s recent centenary.

“In particular, he praised the dedication and professionalism of pharmacy staff during the Covid-19 pandemic, but stressed especially the work of pharmacies in ordinary times, day in and day out.  This was a really important message for us, and the wider public to hear. We all remember those days at the height of the pandemic when we were getting a round of applause every Thursday, but now that those days are gone, that doesn’t mean the level of care for our patients has been reduced.

Raj Aggarwal (L) shakes hands with HRH The Prince of Wales as NPA chair Andrew Lane looks on.
Photo by Ian Jones

“Our sector is under a lot of pressure, with a relentless workload, so events like these at St James Palace really lift our spirits. The Prince’s tribute was not only for those of us lucky enough to be in the room, but for all pharmacy staff across the UK, who give so much to keep people well.

“Looking around the splendid function room at St James’s palace, it was obvious that the gathering included people from the many different backgrounds that make up the pharmacy workforce today. The Prince noted that, whilst pharmacy may be an ancient profession, “it certainly reflects modern Britain in all its splendid diversity,” and I’m proud to say that I’m one of eight board members of the National Pharmacy Association from an Asian background.”

Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of the CCA said: “We were delighted to be invited to a reception hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales which recognised the work of the community pharmacy sector during the Covid-19 pandemic. Pharmacists from CCA members were acknowledged for their extraordinary work during this challenging time and their unwavering commitment to patient care, despite the tremendous pressures they were confronted with”.

Pharmacist Caroline Wells said: “I was honoured to speak with HRH The Prince of Wales about my return to practice in my local area and support them during the pandemic. I started off supporting the teams as best as I could and worked my way back to directly supporting patients. Whilst it was an initially daunting prospect, I am delighted to have made the decision I did both from a professional and personal perspective”.

Pharmacist Rob Severn commented: “I was delighted to speak to HRH The Prince of Wales about community pharmacy-led Covid-19 vaccination programme, having delivered more than 23.5m Covid vaccinations so far and the importance of community pharmacies in delivering routine vaccinations going forward”.

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