A pharmacy manager has said this has been the ‘worst week’ for pharmacy staff absences since the beginning of the pandemic.  

Pete Horrocks, superintendent pharmacist of the 70-branch Knights Pharmacy group, told The Pharmacist (5 January) that staff shortages have led him to consider reducing pharmacy hours so he is not forced to close stories across the country.  

‘This is the worst week ever in terms of staff shortages, many of our staff are isolating after testing positive for Covid,’ he said. ‘It tallies with the increasing numbers of positive cases across the country.’  

It comes as the UK recorded 218,724 new coronavirus infections in a day, as of 9am on Tuesday. 

It is the first time the UK reported more than 200,000 cases in a day, but the figures contain some delayed reporting from over the holiday period. 

Much like in other areas of the NHS, Mr Horrocks explained that the staff shortages due to Covid are putting additional pressure on remaining staff. 

It follows the news that pharmacies have faced abusive behaviour by customers who are unable to pick up lateral flow testing kits amid increased demand.  

This week, The Pharmacist reported that supplies of lateral flow tests have remained ‘patchy’ in pharmacies across England, following the surge in demand over the Christmas period.  

Pharmacies in England have struggled to keep up with a huge surge in demand for Covid tests after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on the increasing threat of the Omicron variant last month (12 December).  

In the same briefing, the Government announced that contacts of Omicron cases would be allowed to avoid a 10-day self-isolation period by taking daily LFTs.   

Pharmacy leaders have attributed the increase in demand for tests, in part, to people wanting to test before meeting up with vulnerable family and friends over the festive period.  

However, demand for the tests has remained high as Christmas has come to an end and children have begun going back to school, they have said.