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Community pharmacies crucial to COVID-19 response

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Community pharmacies have a critical role to play in how we respond to the challenges that COVID-19 brings.

That is the message from Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer.

She said: “Community pharmacies are providing a vital service locally and will continue to do so despite the serious pressures being placed on them.

“It is essential that we protect our front line staff and the customers that they serve.

“That is why pharmacies across Northern Ireland are introducing changes to how they work in line with government guidance on ‘social distancing.’ These measures are designed to keep both staff and the public safe.

“Do not come into the pharmacy if you have a temperature or persistent cough. Instead stay at home, self-isolate and ask a friend, family member or neighbour to go on your behalf.

“Staff are working very hard to keep services going in difficult circumstances so please be patient. Abuse will absolutely not be tolerated.

“I also want to reassure the public that there is currently no shortage of medicines in the supply chain. There is enough medicine for all and I urge everyone to be responsible. There is no need to order extra supplies.

“Prescriptions will normally be ready for collection within 48 hours of ordering. Given current pressures, it is unlikely they will be ready earlier.”

Concluding, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer said: “Purchasing medication that you do not need is unnecessary and could disadvantage other patients. We need to come together as a community to keep those most vulnerable safe and the public can do their part, by not stockpiling.

“Medicine supplies for pharmacies are replenished daily by wholesalers. If a shortage does arise, we have established arrangements in place to respond to that.”

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