Newington Road doctors’ surgery has been closed for a precautionary deep clean after a large number of staff were affected by coronavirus symptoms.
The closure yesterday (April 8) left many residents who needed prescriptions confused as to what to do next.
Owner of the Newington Road Pharmacy Graham Phillips said the situation would affect prescription services at the pharmacy short term but all staff were working on a solution. The pharmacy is open as usual.
Mr Phillips said: “We had vulnerable, elderly and confused patients flooding in asking what was wrong. A couple of admin staff turned up at the surgery but no prescribers.
“The only information was to phone NHS 111 but of course you can’t get through to NHS 111. We had been trying to reassure people but we have had to do that with no communication from the NHS.”
He added that they later were able to get some details, saying: “There’s been a Covid infection at the surgery, a large number of the surgery staff have been taken ill and the surgery is now closed for a deep clean. An emergency visiting service has taken over and as a result we do not know what is happening with prescriptions.”
A further message on the pharmacy facebook page adds: “We are wishing them all the best and praying for a speedy recovery for all staff affected.
“Please be aware this will affect prescriptions for the short term and try to be patient with us and the surgery while we work out the best possible solution for all.”
Mr Phillips iterated support for medical colleagues at the surgery and said the pharmacy has an extremely good working relationship with them. But he says there has been no support from NHS England for pharmacy staff and they have been told they do not need personal protective equipment (PPE) and ‘are not on the frontline.’.
He said: “Our GP colleagues are working extremely hard in difficult circumstances. We are all doing everything to support the vulnerable and elderly in our community.
“But pharmacies have no support, they are not getting PPE and we only have some equipment because a staff member on maternity leave tracked it here and there and I paid for it out of my pocket.
“Obviously people who have been in the surgery have also been in the pharmacy and if my staff become ill they will not be able to serve the Newington and Summerhill community and other pharmacies will not be able to cope with the extra load.”
The Kent & Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, responsible for health services in the county, says Thanet Health CIC is supporting the surgery and helping with prescriptions.
An NHS spokesperson said: “There are currently no appointments taking place at Newington Road Surgery as the premises is undergoing a deep clean. This is necessary after nine staff members were displaying symptoms of Covid-19 and so are currently self-isolating.
“Thanet Health Community Interest Company is supporting the practice by triaging patients by telephone and ensuring that there is no disruption for patients who are due repeat prescriptions.
“If, however, a patient requires a face-to-face appointment, one will be offered with a healthcare professional at the nearby Grange Practice in the Montefiore Centre. Newington Road Surgery is part of the Ramsgate Primary Care Network, which enables surgeries to work more closely together.
“Patients are able to telephone Newington Road Surgery as usual. The surgery is aiming to reopen to patients on Monday, April 13.”
Earlier this week The Isle of Thanet News told how staff at Pierremont Pharmacy in Broadstairs and Newington Pharmacy are at ‘breaking point.
Doc Atherton,Kent Group manager for the community pharmacies run by The Manor Pharmacy Group, said staff 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, between 7am to 11pm, to try and keep on top of demand but are exhausted. They are also having to cope with the needs of patients who previously used their Summerhill pharmacy in Margate Road until it closed at the end of January. The closure was due to being unable to sustain financial losses amid a lack of government support.
The NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group has been contacted for further information.
This is fake news, again a way the media does not help the situation that we are facing. There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at Newington Road Surgery, but unfortunately the majority of the staff are having to self isolate because of symptoms and that is why the surgery has to close. The deep cleaning is a precaution.
In regards to the prescriptions, again fabricated. All prescriptions are up to date as of today. Any further prescriptions will be carried out by other practices. It’s a shame, that when staff are unwell, there is a lack of sympathy and respect from colleagues, it’s a shame that we cannot look after each other during tough times like these. Mr Phillips, it’s disappointing that you could not be supportive to your colleagues but rather turn to the media to add hysteria.
I think Mr Phillips was quite forward about saying he supported the surgery staff, it was the lack of help from NHS England that he is upset about.
If staff are off with coronavirus symptoms and it is shut for a deep clean then it isn’t fake news.
No-one is having a go at staff here, it is about letting people know the surgery is currently shut, and why, and airing fears from your colleagues at the pharmacy.
There have been many many messages of support and well wishes from readers for surgery staff. I would also point to the NHS statement that I received this morning.
hi i have had great difficulty obtaining a repeat for a Mr M Isaacs so not all fake the surgery gave no information on where to call ,just that it was closed i used my own sense and called 111 ,still not sure if he will receive his meds
It doesn’t look like the staff at Newington pharmacy are paying attention to the 2 meter social distance rule.
Could someone please tell me why hand sanitizer is 15 pound in the pharmacy? I find this information very distressing!