The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called for the government to make wearing face-coverings compulsory for all staff and visitors in all primary healthcare settings, including community pharmacies.
This comes after the government’s recent announcement that face-coverings will be compulsory for all NHS staff, visitors and outpatients in hospitals starting from 15 June.
Recent evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) confirmed that face coverings can reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission from people carrying the virus who are asymptomatic.
Until now, community pharmacy teams have been advised by Public Health England (PHE) to only wear fluid repellent surgical face masks (FRSM) when they are ‘working in an area with possible or confirmed case(s) and unable to maintain 2 metres social distance.’
RPS President Sandra Gidley stressed the importance of extending the new measure to include pharmacy settings.
‘It’s vital that there is consistency in the use of face coverings across primary care, as well as hospital settings, to provide maximum protection from the virus and avoid confusion.
‘Pharmacy teams are on the frontline seeing patients. Alongside PPE and social distancing, encouraging people to wear face-coverings when visiting community pharmacies and general practice will help further protect staff and patients. The Government will need to explain what type of facing covering is useful and how to wear it to best effect.
‘Coronavirus is still a threat to our pharmacists, their teams and others on the frontline. It’s critical everything possible is done to protect them.’
Pharmacy teams across England have struggled to obtain continual supplies of PPE throughout the pandemic, due to high demand for the products worldwide.
Face-coverings on public transport will also be made compulsory from 15 June in England. This is to help stop the transmission of coronavirus as more people go back to work, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said at a press meeting.