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Workplace social distancing ‘impossible’ for pharmacy staff

Health & NHS

Workplace social distancing ‘impossible’ for pharmacy staff

The vast majority of pharmacists are unable to maintain social distancing from other staff in their workplace, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has warned.

A snapshot survey by the RPS revealed that for 94 per cent of pharmacists it is impossible to maintain distancing of two metres from colleagues in areas like the dispensary.

Pharmacies “are often small and simply don’t allow for social distancing,” said the RPS, adding that 40 per cent of respondents reported being unable to maintain social distancing from patients.

A third of respondents to the RPS survey said they were unable to source continuous supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), following on from a recent Pharmacy Magazine survey in which two thirds of pharmacists doubted they would have sufficient supplies of surgical masks to last the week.

RPS president Sandra Gidley said: “It’s clear the vast majority of frontline pharmacy teams are unable to maintain safe social distancing either from staff or patients. They must have access to PPE to protect themselves, their patients and their families.

“We strongly recommend that everyone working in a pharmacy who is unable to maintain 2m social distance from either patients or other staff members should wear a fluid resistant surgical mask.

"We are still hearing too many examples where pharmacy teams are finding it difficult to source the PPE they need to keep them safe in line with our recommendations. There should be no compromise on safety for pharmacy teams and PPE supplies to pharmacy need to reflect this. 

“Pharmacy teams are essential in the battle against this pandemic and patients are depending on us more than ever. Teams must be safeguarded if pharmacy services are going to be able to continue to function.

“If they are insufficiently protected, pharmacists and their staff could end up spreading the virus, as well as being unable to work because of sickness. It is essential the Government steps up and provides sufficient PPE to enable pharmacists to face the realities of working in a pharmacy during the pandemic.”

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Health & NHS