During the first wave of Pandemic, the approximate number of daily new COVID-19 cases in the UK hit a low of 352 in July 2020 — which was the bottom most since new cases reached at 6,201 in May 2020 – with this many in the medical field took a sigh of relief. The pharmacies were no longer pressurized to deliver medicines to shielding patients, and there was hope for a better future, a future without COVID-19. Unfortunately, this certainly was not the case. The cases of COVID-19 have started to rise again in the UK — the number of patients tested positive as of January 2021 are over 60,000— while pharmacies are struggling with the “biggest flu vaccination program in history.” This reflects that still, a lot has to be done going to prepare for the second surge of COVID-19.
When it comes to getting primed for the second wave of COVID-19, “prescription processes and the medication supply chain” were the prime concerns among the pharmacy community that participated in the survey by Healthwatch Medway and Healthwatch Kent. The outcomes of the survey – which was held between September 17 to October 19 – were published in November 2020.
An anonymous respondent mentioned that they disagree that “much has changed or improved” ahead of the second wave. These respondents were specifically concerned about the stock and stated that they “anticipate further shortages and more instances of us using additional time to source products and also incurring losses due to reimbursement shortfalls.”
The 72% of the pharmacies community that participated in the survey stated systems still need to be upgraded ahead of the second wave, the combined outcome submitted by the Paydens group – which controls over 100 pharmacies across the south-east of England – “indicated that they do think that systems are now in place to mitigate concerns around medication in a second lockdown,” as indicated in the Healthwatch report.
The Paydens group and Lloydspharmacy additionally provided feedback with Healthwatch on behalf of 66 and 17 of their branches, respectively. The report also unleashes that access to flu stock remained to be a major concern for 22% of pharmacies. This concern is in alignment with worries reported by C+D in September 2020 when both pharmacy teams and representative bodies testified difficulties sourcing flu vaccines at the hands of increased demand.
The Healthwatch report further reveals that nearly all respondents (92%) agreed that they were not given adequate information, support, and equipment they necessitated to battle against the first wave of the pandemic. While over three quarters (78%) agreed that communication with GPs had been “difficult and slow.” The outcomes of the survey, reports, and the raising concerns in light of the second wave of explains that pharmacies and GPs are again left vulnerable to cater to the health needs of the patients across the globe. However, as major parts of the UK, including main London, has shut down due to the lockdown, corresponding with GP or buying your meds are the two new issues faced by the UK population. This is exactly where the online pharmacies and GP consultation services come into the picture. An example of a service offering this is The Independent Pharmacy. This pharmacy has been able to maintain its stance though out the pandemic, offering a range of over-the-counter and prescription medicines to be delivered for free across the UK. Such efforts greatly relieve the pressure on traditional doctors’ practices.