Pharmacy staff have not been allowed into certain Welsh branches of Morrisons during keyworker hours, despite being considered key workers by the government.

One pharmacist, Mo Nazemi, director of Evans Pharmacy in Wales, told the Pharmacist that some of his staff had been ‘refused entry’ to Morrisons in Barry on Saturday morning during the NHS key workers hour -- even after presenting a letter from the NHS confirming that pharmacy staff are frontline staff.

He said: ‘My staff were told by Morrisons that they weren’t on the list of people who qualify as key workers and that only NHS ID cards would be accepted as valid forms of entry, and the letter from the Welsh health board would not.’

Some stores in Wales were not accepting the documents as evidence

Many pharmacy staff do not have NHS ID cards. In response to this both The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and Welsh health boards have produced letters that pharmacy staff can show to supermarkets to prove their key worker status.

However, according to pharmacy staff, some Morrisons stores in Wales were not accepting the documents as evidence.

‘My team were very frustrated. It makes no sense that pharmacy staff are not on the key worker list’, Mr Nazemi said. He claimed he had heard ‘lots’ of similar complaints from other pharmacy colleges in Wales.

In a tweet, the former director of RPS Wales, Paul Gimson, claimed that some Morrisons stores in Cardiff were also not recognising community pharmacists as NHS frontline workers, despite teams displaying letters from the local health board and the RPS.

According to the supermarkets' website, the company has an ‘NHS hour’ for all NHS frontline workers in all of its stores, Monday to Saturday, from 7am to 8am.

Morrisons has ‘no excuse’

The director of the PDA, Paul Day, said that Morrisons has ‘no excuse’ for not allowing pharmacy staff in during the key worker slot.

‘Morrisons are contracted to the NHS to provide pharmacy service, because they are an employer of pharmacists -- they have no excuse for not knowing that pharmacists are key workers,’ he said.

In response to issues like this, the PDA has recently created an ID card for pharmacists, which states the pharmacist's name, registration number, their profession and the fact pharmacists are key workers.

The RPS Director for Pharmacy and Member Experience, Robbie Turner said: ‘We are aware that some pharmacists and their teams are having difficulty accessing supermarket priority shopping slots.

‘We have contacted the British Retail Consortium and the supermarkets who are offering this access to ask for their support to make sure all those working hard to keep the public safe and well can benefit from these great initiatives.’

The store apologised

After notifying Morrisons of pharmacy staff being turned away during the dedicated hour, the store apologised and added that Morrisons is currently only accepting NHS staff with an ID badge.

‘The hour isn't just restricted to NHS staff but anyone who works there or in a similar service with a valid ID badge,’ a spokesperson told the Pharmacist.