The government-funded Community Pharmacy Pandemic Delivery Service will not cover some of the UK’s most vulnerable patients, pharmacists claim.

The government's list of shielded patients -- for whom pharmacies are now required to arrange delivery of medications -- does not cover people over the age of 70, which many pharmacists consider to be one of the most vulnerable patient groups.

Director of Allisons Chemist in Cockermouth, Nat Mitchell, expressed his frustration over the government's decision. ‘The over 70s have always been considered a vulnerable group by the government -- it’s why we are told they need flu jabs every year. So, the fact they now suddenly don’t feature on a list of vulnerable people sends us such mixed messages.

‘Over 70s come into our pharmacies a lot. They’re a very large part of our patient base, and the more they enter our pharmacies, they put themselves and everyone else at risk,’ he commented.

Mr Mitchell said that his pharmacy will continue to deliver to this group, but at the pharmacy’s expense.

‘We obviously will still deliver their medications -- as we want to protect our patients and don’t want them to enter the pharmacy and put themselves at risk -- but we will have to pay for it. I feel like this is just the government's way of saving money.’

Owner of Hodgson Pharmacy in Kent, Amish Patel, suggested that the eligibility criteria for the delivery service should be extended to over 70’s.

‘Many from the age group have received letters from the government telling them to stay indoors, so why are they not also on this list?’ he said.

People over the age of 70 have been told to stay at home to protect themselves from coronavirus.

According to data published by ONS (16 April), 80% of Covid-19 deaths so far have occurred in people aged 70 and over. Many in this group (83%) had pre-existing health conditions.

Pharmacies can call upon the NHS volunteer service to deliver medicines through the new delivery service, but many contractors are saying that they do not feel comfortable using NHS volunteers to deliver medicines.

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