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London pharmacist lauded for drawing up ‘excellent’ Covid-19 guidance


By Isabel Shaw

17 Mar 2020

A community pharmacist has compiled a set of unofficial guidelines to support other pharmacies amid confusion over how they should be managing coronavirus.

Reena Barai, contractor at SG Barai Chemist in Sutton, began collating a list of things for pharmacies to think about and to help them feel ‘prepared’ and ‘supported’.

She told The Pharmacist that, despite working on the frontline dealing with patients, she felt there was a lack of coherent, formal guidance from national bodies on how they ought to tackle the developing pandemic.

‘It started as a bit of a brain dump,’ she said. ‘My brain was just exploding with worries and considerations about my pharmacy, and I just felt very alone. No one was telling me what to do.’

Ms Barai acknowledged that the national organisations have faced a difficult job in keeping community pharmacies up to date but argued that their advice was inconsistent.

She said: ‘They’re probably all doing lots of work. They just perhaps aren’t aware of just how lonely it is on the ground and how we have to open our pharmacies up every day to the public.

‘It would be good to have some consistency and standardisation on how we treat people.’

Ms Barai has been sharing her guidance on social media for other pharmacists to see.

It includes things like:

  • adding a physical barrier around the pharmacy counter to maintain a 2m distance between staff and patients
  • keeping clear aisles to enable waiting customers to keep a distance between themselves and others
  • having a rota for staff who are in contact with patients and thinking about how to deal with any staff absences
  • devising a strategy for deliveries and asking unwell patients to send healthy relatives to collect their prescriptions to minimise pressure on delivery services
  • using phone consultations where possible
  • cleaning the pharmacy more frequently
  • restricting OTC sales – like paracetamol – to ensure stock is maintained
  • reviewing the pharmacy’s business continuity plan
  • running through a mock closure scenario so staff know how to deal with such an eventuality.

The guidance has been well-received, Ms Barai said. ‘I’ve had people contact me individually, some of whom have suggested advice I hadn’t thought of, so it’s been very useful.’

A pharmacist as far away as Australia has asked to use her guidance, which you can read in full here.

Ms Barai’s unofficial guidance comes as PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes called for ‘urgent investment now’ in order to for independent pharmacies to remain open during the Covid-19 outbreak, and beyond.


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