The UK’s chief pharmaceutical officers and pharmacy regulators have warned pharmacy teams that the second wave of Covid-19 could require a sustained response from them as it could last much longer.

In a joint letter, they said although the initial peak of pressure on all healthcare teams will be significantly lower than it would have been due to timely action from the whole population, the second wave “may well be prolonged throughout the winter period, with wide local variation in cases, requiring a sustained response from all the healthcare professions and teams.”

Thanking pharmacy professional for their “tireless efforts to support patients”, they wrote: “It is also vitally important to look after each other during this time. We want pharmacy professionals to feel supported and cared for at work, the pandemic is a difficult time for everyone.”

“Covid-19 has been a challenge for the entire UK population but frontline clinicians and teams have been particularly affected,” the letter stated, adding that “there is already sustained additional pressure on parts of the NHS” over potential deployment of coronavirus vaccines which are already seeing “impressive scientific progress”.

Chief pharmaceutical officer, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Dr Keith Ridge tweeted on Friday morning:

The signatories of the letter asked pharmacy teams “to use their professional judgement to assess risk” and ensure “people receive safe care, informed by the values and principles set out in our professional standards.”

Expressing their appreciation of students, prov-reg and pre-reg pharmacists, they said: “We are also determined to ensure the long-term prospects of pharmacy students and those who are provisionally registered are not compromised by this prolonged health crisis.

“… We also have been monitoring the impact on pre-registration pharmacy technicians and greatly appreciate their hard work, and that of their course providers, tutors and their employers who are supporting them to stay on track with their training programmes and progress to registration.”

Stating that pharmacy teams would continue to respond rapidly and professionally to challenges of the pandemic, the letter said: “We recognise some pharmacy professionals may find themselves working in unfamiliar circumstances or surroundings, or for professionals, working in clinical areas outside their usual practice for the benefit of patients and the population as a whole.”

The letter, dated Nov 26, was signed by Dr Ridge; Andrew Evans, CPO, Wales; Cathy Harrison, CPO, Northern Ireland; Dr Alison Strath, interim CPO, Scotland; Duncan Rudkin, chief executive, GPhC; and Trevor Patterson, chief executive, PSNI.

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