UK pharmacists struggling to follow social distancing measures, survey finds

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An overwhelming majority of UK pharmacists have been unable to maintain social distancing protocols during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a survey from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), 94 per cent of respondents have been unable to keep two metres apart from fellow members of staff, owing to the small sizes of their places of work – particularly in dispensaries. Meanwhile, 40 per cent of respondents said they had struggled to maintain a healthy distance from patients, thereby increasing their risk of infection.

The survey also found that over a third (34 per cent) of pharmacists have struggled to access a continuous supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

RPS president Sandra Gidley said it was “essential that the government steps up” and increases the provision of PPE. She said in a statement: “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.” 

Rohan Banerjee is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman

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