The recent reports of 10,000 riot police being readied to tackle disorder arising from post-Brexit medicine shortages will not encourage patients to stay calm, says contractor Ade Williams of Beaminster Pharmacy in Bristol.
‘The problem with headlines like that [police getting ready to tackle riots caused by post-Brexit medicines supplies] is they don’t exactly make things calmer. You could be sitting at home thinking everything is going to be okay and suddenly you read an article that says the Government are planning against a riot.
While I’m sure it’s just the Government trying to be responsible and put procedures in place, that overarching narrative of pandemonium and shortages does not go well with the ‘keep calm, everything is under control’ narrative we are trying to project.
‘The Government has said not to stockpile but I think some patients question whether that is what they should be doing. If you’re worrying about your favourite brand of grocery, then you probably think, I’ll just find have to find something else that I like. But when it’s your life-saving medication, then you are going to think that you need to do something about it. So even with the best assurances, people are acting in a way that is predictable and logical.
‘We’ve had a few patients that have mentioned increasing their prescriptions, but there is good coordination between us and the GP surgeries to ensure we are following and giving consistent advice. We know patients shouldn’t stockpile because that would create problems, so we discourage this. I think what has prevented stockpiling is us realising that as professionals we need to work together to create that calm. If we are seen to be facilitating panic, then we’ll find ourselves with a deluge of people trying to do the same thing.
‘It is also a very worrying time for my colleagues. I work with a multinational team and quite a few are European nationals. For those people, this is their life, they have built their lives around this union between the UK and the EU and they have no control or say in the political process to determine it. They are hearing about a process that they are completely paralysed from influencing in any way. I think the way it [Brexit] is happening has made them really reconsider whether this is the right place for them to be too, not just now but in the future.
‘These are people who have valuable skill-sets, which have been built up over a long period of time. Community pharmacy is a very patient facing, accessible role, so patients come in because they know you and trust you – and as staff you know and understand them. To create all of that and become embedded in the community takes a lot of time and investment in training. If I lose those staff members, I can’t just bring in someone else in, train them overnight and then put them back into the community the next day.’