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How to help your pharmacy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Overview

We are asking patients to help their pharmacy by following these 5 steps:

  1. Do not visit a pharmacy if you or anyone in your household has one or more of the following symptoms:
    • a high temperature
    • a new continuous cough, even if it’s mild
    • loss of or change to your normal sense of smell or taste 
  2. Plan ahead where possible. Try to order your next prescription seven days before it is due. This will help the pharmacist deal with urgent requests and queries.
  3. Put your contact details on your prescription so pharmacies can let you know when your medicines are ready to collect. This will reduce the amount of time you need to be in the pharmacy. Try not to ring the pharmacy unless it is urgent.
  4. If you are self-isolating, please ask family, friends or neighbours to arrange to pick up your medication for you. If you do not have anyone who can collect your medicine, speak to your pharmacy for advice about how they can help.
  5. If you are well and able to visit the pharmacy, think about how you can help family, friends and neighbours who are self-isolating by collecting their medicines on their behalf. (You may need to take ID with you and you will need to know the name and address of the person you are collecting for).

This approach will help to keep patients and NHS staff safe and ensure that all patients can receive the medicines they need, both now and in the future.

How will I get my medicine(s) while shielding or self-isolating?

If you are self-isolating please ask family, friends or neighbours to arrange to pick up your medication for you.

If you do not have anyone who can collect your medicine, speak to your community pharmacy for advice about how they can help.

We appreciate this is a worrying time for the public especially our most vulnerable citizens. That’s why we are prioritising community pharmacy to ensure people continue to receive their medicines when they need them.

We have introduced the Welsh Prescription Volunteer Delivery Service. We are working with British Red Cross, St John Ambulance and other third sector organisations to draw upon the many people who have volunteered their time. Pharmacies now have extra capacity to make more deliveries to those who are shielding and those who have no social support network. People should get in touch with their pharmacy to discuss how they can get their medicines.

We have also introduced a Royal Mail service. This allows community pharmacies to post prescriptions where there is no other alternative. 

All community pharmacies in Wales can take part in the delivery service and the Royal Mail service.

Is my community pharmacy open as usual?

The majority of community pharmacies are now operating usual opening hours.

At the outset of the pandemic community pharmacies were given more flexibility with their opening times.

This flexibility gives pharmacy teams the time and space they need to plan and complete work each day. It is important that pharmacies continue to operate during these hours even if they are not open to the public.

Am I safe visiting my local pharmacy?

Community pharmacies are a low-risk environment for COVID-19 transmission. Clear guidance has been given to pharmacies to reduce this risk further. Social distancing and good hand hygiene are the most effective measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Pharmacies have put in measures to protect patients and staff which include:

  • screening of patients before they enter the pharmacy
  • limiting the number of people allowed in at any one time to ensure social distancing
  • following good infection control procedures in line with national guidance
  • providing a two-metre area between staff and service users

Pharmacies are advised to use appropriate areas for 'supervised consumption' for opioid therapy. This is to ensure that a two-metre distance is maintained. They need to make sure that confidentiality can be maintained and that the service user is happy to proceed.

Will my medicine be in stock?

The UK Government works closely with the NHS and suppliers to make sure medicines and medical products continue to be available. Occasionally the NHS experiences temporary shortages of specific medicines. There are well-established processes in place to deal with them. Pharmacies play a vital role in maintaining supplies of medicines and supporting patients.

How can I order a repeat prescription while self-isolating?

We encourage the public to use electronic means of prescription re-ordering where possible. This includes MyHealthOnline, and other existing electronic ordering systems including apps. We have also asked General Practices (GPs) to consider using external prescription drop-off boxes. GPs can also allow telephone prescription orders if necessary.

How can I get my routine medication while temporarily residing in Wales

Routine medication will not be provided to temporary residents, unless they have relocated to live with a carer who is ordinarily resident within the health board area.

All requests for repeat medication must be made to your usual GP practice at your primary place of residence.

If they are unable to provide prescriptions at a distance, you will need to return home.

We would strongly recommend that you remain in your primary residence for the remainder of the lockdown period.

Requests for repeat medication to local health board GP practices, GP out of hours, community pharmacies, minor injuries units, or emergency departments will be refused and you will be directed to contact your usual GP practice.

Travel to your primary residence is considered essential travel and you will not be fined for making the journey home.

How will I get my medication while isolating abroad?

UK citizens travelling overseas are advised to take out health insurance. At present, UK citizens in EU countries can still use their European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC). The EHIC card entitles UK citizens to emergency or necessary medical care for the same cost as a resident in the country they are visiting. This could be at a reduced cost or for free. UK citizens can also use a UK prescription in pharmacies in EU countries. In other countries, patients can use the local health services.

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