First food, and toilet paper, and now it seems some people are stockpiling medicines, which we're told are still readily available 'over the counter' with no shortages reported.
Pharmcies will remain open as an essential service, despite the islands now being in lockdown so there is no need for anyone to stockpile over the counter medicines or to ask pharmacists to dispense repeat prescriptions before their valid date.
There's been a surge in business at pharmacies since the first case of corona virus was confirmed in the island earlier this month, and the Bailiwick's Prescribing Advisor Geraldine O’Riordan said in some cases staff are having to deal with double their normal requests.
Some patients are also reported to have put pressure on pharmacy staff to dispense some prescriptions in advance, which is not allowed. There have also been reports of customers purchasing large quantities of over the counter medicines, such as painkillers.
Pictured: One of Guernsey's chemists, with many others across the islands.
Miss O’Riordan said this extra demand has put pressure on the medicine supply chain, and she is now appealing to everyone across the Bailiwick to act responsibly.
“Dealing with this pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for the Bailiwick. As one small community it is vital we work together to ensure that not only our own healthcare needs are met, but those of other islanders and those delivering our care.
“Every year one and a half million prescription items are dispensed in the Bailiwick. Sudden, extra demand in one month will put significant, unnecessary pressure on the supply chain, and that is something we want to guard against.
“I appeal to all islanders to act responsibly, please only ask for one month’s supply of prescription medicines at a time and please do not stockpile over the counter or pharmacy medicines.”
The earliest a pharmacy can dispense a prescription is four days before the date on the prescription. It is not valid before then. Miss O’Riordan said they could not be dispensed any earlier than that.
“Pharmacy staff are not permitted to dispense extra prescriptions in advance, and it will not be helpful or productive to put pressure on them,” she said.
Islanders who are self-isolating can ask a friend, relative or a volunteer to pick up any prescriptions as they need them, and some pharmacies also offer home delivery.
Miss O’Riordan said that other options were being actively considered, but those will take some time to organise.
With the islands all now in lockdown you should call in advance to ask for a repeat prescription to be dispensed, so that there is minimal delay. Or you can ask a friend or relative to collect the medicine for you.
Miss O’Riordan has asked everyone to be understanding while pharmacies continue dealing with an increased workload.
“At the moment community pharmacists may, due to heavy workload, ask patients to come back later in the day or the following day for non-urgent prescriptions. This is to allow for more urgent prescriptions for medicines that are needed immediately such as antibiotics or pain killers, to be dispensed immediately.”
The most up to date information can be found online at gov.gg/coronavirus.
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