The government must provide emergency funding to give pharmacies read-write access to patients’ records amid the coronavirus crisis.

This is one of several measures the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) has called for to help pharmacists cope with the immediate challenges and provide a seamless service to patients.

Read-write access will give pharmacists the power to prescribe and amend prescriptions, meaning patients don’t have to go to their GP practice – many of which have closed their doors.

This will ‘improve the quality of healthcare’ as pharmacies battle on the frontline to deal with coronavirus, the NAPC said.

Additional funding is also needed to help community pharmacies to step up the number of home deliveries they can make, to support vulnerable patients who have to stay at home for the foreseeable future.

The NAPC also called for regulations on splitting bulk packs of paracetamol to be relaxed, so pharmacies can better manage increased demand. 

Wholesalers have reported shortages of common medications, including paracetamol and ibuprofen, after a sharp increase in the demand for the drugs in recent weeks. 

Indian exports of paracetamol and other drugs and ingredients were also restricted, as firms there struggled to get supplies from Chinese manufacturers in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic.