Graduate pharmacist talks about life on the frontline during the COVID-19 crisis
Baldev Danny Singh, University of Wolverhampton Master's Pharmacy graduate, talks about life on the frontline as a Pharmacist at Boots during the COVID-19 crisis.
Pharmacists are continuing to work on the frontline during the COVID-19 crisis and our pharmacy teams are committed to serving their communities by continuing to dispense prescriptions, sell medicines and provide advice.
Throughout March there was a huge demand for repeat prescriptions as well as products like paracetamol, hand sanitizer and thermometers. While it's calmed down a bit now, and footfall to the pharmacy has dropped, we find that some people are still trying to get repeat prescriptions early. We are recommending that patients order their medicines when they need them, so that we can manage stocks and supplies. We are doing our very best to keep our pharmacies open and to manage our stock levels.
During February and March we continued to do NHS Medicine Use Review (MUR) consultations and vaccination services such as flu and pneumonia jabs but we are now unable to provide private consultations due to social distancing. However, it is important our customers know that we are here for them, we are contactable over the phone, and for anything urgent or essential as long as we maintain a two metre distance, we are still able to give customers general advice for minor ailments.
As a pharmacist, I urge people to stay home and stay safe. Remember, there are lots of other people out there so only order or buy medicines when you need them, and don't stockpile - in particular, don't ask for repeat prescriptions until you need them. In addition, please allow at least seven days between ordering your prescription and collecting from the pharmacy, and do not ring the pharmacy unnecessarily to see if your prescription is ready; instead please wait for your mobile text collection reminder or simply register for text reminders if you do not have this facility set up.
We are following the Government social distancing guidelines and have measured out the floor with tape to keep customers at a safe distance, and towards the end of March we received delivery of shields and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including facial visors, face masks, disposable aprons and gloves to keep staff safe, too.
The main message is that pharmacies are open for business and we urge people to think about the other illnesses that are out there as well as Coronavirus. We are serving people with all kinds of illnesses such as those with cancer, diabetes, asthma and terminally ill patients receiving palliative care. We need to keep our eye on the holistic picture and not get completely side-tracked by COVID-19.
It is my mission to be part of this critical response to help people to stay well and feel better. It's a privilege and an honour for me to serve my local communities. Me and my team are taking all the right precautions to stay safe and our priority is to look after our customers and each other at the moment. We are concerned for the vulnerable members of our communities and urge a family member, friend or carer to collect prescriptions on their behalf wherever possible. We have temporarily waived our delivery charge to provide free delivery to our very most vulnerable patients i.e. those who are currently shielding themselves and who have no other means of collecting their prescriptions.
I'm doing a Postgraduate Independent Prescribing Course at the moment and believe that this is the future of pharmacy – to enable us to prescribe in our areas of competency, like having a GP in your local pharmacy. This is where I'm aiming to be and this will make healthcare more accessible to our communities.
Being a pharmacist is a really rewarding career. The work placement opportunities offered to me whilst studying really helped me prepare for the world of work, taking me into primary and secondary care, including community pharmacies, GP surgeries, care-homes and hospitals. Now more than ever my team and I feel that we are making a real positive contribution in our community in the fight against Coronavirus and other illnesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder to us all that there are many people working in frontline jobs that are usually taken for granted, and now they are being recognised as being more important than ever, and I'm certainly proud to be one of those frontline staff making a real difference to people's lives during this difficult and challenging time. I believe the “Clap for Our Carers” initiative to celebrate all NHS and Key Workers is truly humbling, and I am sure will long be embedded in the minds of the nation when this pandemic is over.
After graduating from the University of Wolverhampton with a Master's degree in Pharmacy, Danny joined Boots UK Telford and has since gone on to become a Boots Advanced Practitioner. He has been working as a pharmacist for seven years.
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