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Students among those volunteering to help out in pharmacies as Covid-19 takes hold

By Isabel Shaw

19 Mar 2020

Pharmacists and students are rallying together to support community pharmacies across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

Taking to Twitter, the band of volunteers have been offering their services to help out in overstretched local pharmacies, amid unprecedented levels of demand and increasing pressures.

In response to this, Manchester-based community pharmacist Thorrun Govind has started to build a national database of locums, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy students and dispensers who are available to help pharmacies in need of extra staff. 

Ms Govind said the main incentive for starting this database was the ‘fear’ that many pharmacies may soon close due to understaffing and underfunding.

‘This is obviously the ultimate risk, and we can’t afford to have pharmacies closing right now,’ she said. 

‘So that’s why I think it’s important to know who’s available and where so we can link them to their closest pharmacies,’ Ms Govind added. 

Since announcing the launch of the database yesterday (18 March), 20 people have put their names forward, but Ms Govind hopes to gather many more over the coming weeks. 

Pharmacy student, Jay Patel, currently in his third year at the Leicester School of Pharmacy, is one of the volunteers on the database. He initially put himself forward on Twitter to volunteer, after seeing how busy his pharmacy tutors have been since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

‘You could see how stressed everyone was. My pharmacy tutors were rushing about, trying to teach us while also looking after their patients,’ he said. 

Mr Patel has been inundated by pharmacies requesting his help, and he plans to begin volunteering at a community pharmacy in Manchester tomorrow (20 March).  

He said he believed other students should follow suit, ‘We [students] have the skills, we’ve all passed our exams and we’re qualified to help, and we can help.

‘Most students are also a very low-risk group at the moment, so I really think we should be doing everything and anything we can do to help out our pharmacies while they are so overwhelmed.’ 

According to PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes, the massive strain coronavirus has placed on community pharmacy could result in many having to close for good.

Meanwhile, patients are being urged to use pharmacy services responsibly to help minimise unnecessary pressures on frontline staff.

If any locums, pharmacy technicians or pharmacy students are capable of supporting pharmacies during this period, please get in touch with Thorrun Govind on twitter at @pharmthorrun

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