The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is calling on the Government to implement ‘sensible measures’ to protect pharmacy teams this winter, while cases of Covid infection continue to rise rapidly across the country.

This comes after the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said yesterday (20 October) that ‘at this point’ the Government would not introduce its Plan B measures.

Thorrun Govind, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, told The Pharmacist today (21 October) that the Government must ‘consider the use of sensible, practical measures to support pharmacists and healthcare professionals, as well as the public'.

‘With continued pressures on pharmacy teams and the NHS, and with added pressure through winter, we must do everything we can to help protect each other from Covid-19,’ she explained.

According to the latest Government data, almost 50,000 new positive cases were reported yesterday (20 October), with a 17% rise in cases over the last week compared to the previous seven days.

The number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus has also risen by 11% between 10 October and 16 October compared with the previous seven days, while deaths have risen by 21% between 14 October and 20 October compared with the previous week.

Further Covid restrictions included in Plan B will only be reintroduced in England if the NHS is under ‘unsustainable pressure’, the Government has said.

Plan B measures would include compulsory face coverings, Covid passports for entry to nightclubs and large events, as well as recommending working from home.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) has said the Government needs to provide more clarity on what conditions will prompt the initiation of Plan B.

Paul Day, director of the PDA told The Pharmacist that the organisation is ‘concerned’ over the current lack of restrictions for all four UK nations.

He said it was especially concerned with the current covid restrictions in England.

‘In England, there has been mixed messaging and ambiguity from Government, even now the health secretary warns of risk, yet also sits on Government benches where there is not a mask in sight.

‘With Covid numbers going in the wrong direction now, the Government needs to clarify the Plan A position as well as explain the conditions that will prompt it to instigate a Plan B,’ he added.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has already warned that the Government’s decision not to launch its ‘plan B’ now is ‘incredibly concerning’ and ‘wilfully negligent’.

Council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP in North London, said: ‘The Westminster Government said it would enact “plan B” to prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed; as doctors working on the frontline, we can categorically say that time is now.’

On Tuesday (19 October), the NHS Confederation urged the Government to implement a ‘plan B plus’, including measures such as mandatory face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces, ‘without delay’ to prevent the NHS from being ‘overwhelmed’ this winter.