Pharmacy team members, and those delivering supplies of medicines and clinical equipment, should have priority access to fuel amid a growing crisis in supply and closed petrol station forecourts, the Pharmacists’ Defence Union (PDA) has said.
In an open letter to Boris Johnson, Mark Koziol the PDA chair explained that ‘many’ members of pharmacy staff are finding it difficult to source fuel for their vehicles and get into work which inadvertently puts patients at risk.
He said: ‘As you will be aware from the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, because some of the other healthcare professions chose to see their patients online, pharmacies became the front line in primary care.
‘Pharmacies where one of the few essential services able to stay fully open providing vital access not only to medicines, but also face to face healthcare advice for patients. As such, pharmacists were considered key workers.
‘Clearly, the logistical and transportation systems that pharmacies are reliant upon to secure their vital supplies of medicines are also a vital component of the pharmacy service.
‘We are therefore calling on you as Prime Minister to ensure that the government prioritises fuel provision for healthcare workers to include pharmacists, and for those delivering supplies of medicines and clinical equipment.’
Some pharmacists took to Twitter to express their concerns:
Similarly, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair called on the Goveremnent to ensure General practice teams and other healthcare workers get ‘priority access’ to fuel so they can get to work and reach patients,
He said: ‘Emergency and essential workers rely on fuel both to travel to work and for their work itself – whether this is to get to hospitals, practices and other healthcare settings, or for ambulances to reach people in urgent need of care and GPs to visit very ill patients at home.
‘Everyone will have their own reasons for needing to fill up, but as pumps run dry there is a real risk that NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs, and provide vital services and care to people who urgently need it.
‘While the Government has said it is putting plans in place to alleviate the shortage of HGV drivers to transport fuel, the results of this won’t be immediate. Healthcare and essential workers must therefore be given priority access to fuel so they can continue their crucial work and guarantee care to patients.’
Up to 90% of petrol stations are thought to have run dry.
Reports that the army may be brought in to help ensure fuel supplies for essential services, such as the NHS, have been denied, as the public have been urged to stop panic buying.