Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) has called for urgent access to Covid-19 testing kits and PPE for staff, as growing numbers are self-isolating.
Around a third of community pharmacy staff across Northern Ireland are now self-isolating due to COVID-19 symptoms.
This includes staff in at least 100 community pharmacies, who have had to remove themselves from the network, to keep colleagues and patients safe.
CPNI is calling for the urgent provision of testing kits so that staff who test negative can return to work and help deal with huge demand in local pharmacies.
The body is also calling for Personal Protective Equipment to be made more widely available to prevent as many staff in community pharmacy teams from getting the virus as possible.
‘In Northern Ireland,’ said CPNI Chief Executive, Gerard Greene, ‘we understand that it is now policy to test all frontline healthcare workers for Covid-19. In practice however, this will be prioritised among different groups, starting with patients in hospital, followed by identified clusters in the community and then on to healthcare workers.
‘Community pharmacists are considered frontline workers, but the priority will undoubtedly be suspected patients in hospital and those healthcare workers in hospitals.
‘We need to see all community pharmacy staff have access to testing kits as soon as possible. We understand there are obvious difficulties with resources but currently a significant proportion of community pharmacy staff are self-isolating.
‘If we have access to testing kits it would allow at least some of them to return to work and help ease the enormous pressures that the network in Northern Ireland is currently experiencing.’