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Poor GPs? It’s pharmacists who are taking the coronavirus hit on our behalf

By Dr Livingstone
GP blogger

02 Mar 2020

GPs may think they’re the victims in the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s the pharmacists who are really on the firing line, says The Pharmacist’s GP blogger Dr Livingston.

I have to be honest. We GPs can be quite good at making the story – whatever that story might be – all about us. Take coronavirus. We’re the victims here, you know. Not in terms of actual numbers, true. But we’re suffering. NHSE are refusing to stump up free facemasks. They won’t let us temporarily suspend online booking. And they’re not giving us enough information, or too much, or it’s too confusing, or too simplistic, or whatever.

Because, after all, we’re in the frontline, you know.

Except we aren’t. You pharmacists are. To a large extent, GPs can screen out the potentially coronoviral before they get within coughing and spluttering distance – we have a media campaign, phonelines and reception staff to do that. But you? For as long as we can all remember, the direction of travel for all manner of minor ailments – including viral illness – has been away from us GPs and directly towards you pharmacists.

Which means that those at greatest risk of inadvertent Covid-19 exposure must be you. And yet I see no boarding up of pharmacy doors. No bouncers outside armed with thermal imaging equipment. Not even any pharmacists hiding fearfully behind facemasks.

It seems that all you have to defend yourselves is some posters. You could try rolling them up to swat away viruses, but I doubt that will help much. Either Public Health England has forgotten all about you, or you’re nobly and uncomplainingly taking the hit on our behalf. In which case, you deserve all the hand-sanitising-gel sales you can get.

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