Pharmacies in Thanet, and across the country, are facing unprecedented demand and staff shortages and have now been told they must open on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Staff at Pierremont Pharmacy in Broadstairs and Newington Pharmacy are at ‘breaking point’ says Kent Group manager Doc Atherton.
The community pharmacies, run by The Manor Pharmacy Group, have seen a 300% rise on prescription requests as people worry about having adequate supplies and staff shortages as colleagues have to self-isolate.
Staff are working extra hours to try and keep on top of demand but are exhausted, says Doc.
And now the break they were hoping to get over this holiday weekend has been cancelled.
NHS England is requiring GP surgeries to be open on Good Friday and Easter Monday and has provided extra funding for them. Under National Health Service regulations and with agreement of the Secretary of State the health organisation also requires pharmacies in England to open from 2pm to 5pm on both those days.
Pharmacies are able to get some funding but the rate will not reflect a bank or public holiday premium.
This means the pharmacy group will have to foot the bill for the extra rate.
Doc (pictured above) said: “My staff at both Pierremont Pharmacy and Newington Pharmacy have been working a lot of extra hours by coming in early and finishing late so people can get their medicines.
“They are exhausted and were obviously looking forward to getting a small rest but now that won’t happen. They feel let down and not supported, which is very sad indeed. They know that we need them to work, we know we need to pay them extra for working on the bank holidays but the funding that we will get, won’t actually cover that.
“In addition, phamacies across Thanet and around the country are still under immense pressure as people continue to request prescriptions earlier than usual. Pharmacy staff are still having to self isolate in cases which puts more pressure on the rest of the teams.
“Although we have now put protective screens in, pharmacies have had to fund this out of their own pockets too. Pharmacy suppliers are behind on orders across the country due to the sheer demand, which of course also has a knock-on effect.
“We are at breaking point but the work continues and we are just getting even more snowed under.”
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is arguing for full bank holiday funding to support pharmacies as they open over the Easter break.
NHS England says: “We recognise the pressures and anxieties that frontline staff face in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“A national letter was published supporting doctors and healthcare professionals in the Coronavirus pandemic. Major regulators have issued guidance to support health professionals in these challenging circumstances, encouraging partnership working, flexibility and operating in line with the best available guidance.
“The General Pharmaceutical Council has issued important guidance and information for pharmacies and professionals registered with them.”
I use paydens in Margate are in the same situation they are under great pressure people waiting outside. Boots are under the same pressure I noticed they have closed the store early should they not keep the pharmacy open until its usual time.
What poor judgement to have shut the Summerhill Pharmacy a few weeks ago
Pharmacies are closing early to allow staff time to deep clean and catch up with workload. If the pharmacy teams aren’t kept safe, who will dispense your prescriptions? The workload is huge,support is needed from customers, not criticism.
Debbie Spillett Debbie I couldn’t agree more with what you said. The supermarkets are shutting earlier to clean and restore so should the pharmacy as it’s important people are not over worked and becoming tired. As it is has very important role to play during this pandemic I personally feel that the pharmacy’s are doing a fantastic job in making sure medicine and other things they stock as a normal item are still available for all. Thanks again for another part of the important people who are still serving the community and more so the people who are sick and need vital medication. ??❤️
I am one of those people that have to stay put for twelve weeks and it is a worry that l won’t get my medication. A gentleman from the council rang me to see if l wanted anything so next month l will get him to collect it from the pharmacy.
My pharmacy will be open on good Friday and bank holiday Monday it was no problem for them there is no need for criticism from some people these hard working people need my support I made a comment about closing early my pharmacy has noticed telling people that’s no problem I did not see any times on boots some stores are run by companies such as boots they can catch up earlier many people do not venture out until late in the morning my pharmacy closes between 12noon and 2pm stays open till 6pm they know when people come out.
Boots pharmacies are also open Good Friday and Easter Monday, as you can imagine, for stores that don’t normally open, staff have been asked to work and not have a break for Easter. It’s challenging and demanding, and these teams deserved a break. But I can say that my team were amazing, and without hesitation, all offered to work to support out local community. We do it for each other and our patients, not because we are a big corporate company.