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Staff absences due to COVID-19 self-isolation impact AAH and Alliance deliveries

Staff absences due to COVID-19 self-isolation requirements have had an impact on some AAH and Alliance Healthcare deliveries, C+D has learned.

A spokesperson for AAH told C+D last week (August 12) that the wholesaler is “currently experiencing much higher levels of colleague absence due to COVID-19 self-isolation”.

“We are working hard to maintain business as usual, although in some locations we are having to reschedule a small number of deliveries,” they added.

However, the company believes that the changes to government guidance that came into effect yesterday (August 16) – which mean fully vaccinated people will not be asked to self-isolate if they have been identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 – will “help to reduce colleague absence”.

A spokesperson for Alliance Healthcare told C+D last week that “colleague absences, in large part due to strict COVID-isolation rules, have been affecting routes from certain service centres recently”.

However, in an update on its website earlier this month (August 4), Alliance Healthcare wrote that COVID-19-related absences were decreasing, and the situation was improving after critical workers, such as their drivers, were made exempt from isolation requirements.


Recruiting new drivers


Both wholesalers said they are working to onboard new delivery drivers.

An AAH spokesperson said the company is “working directly with agencies to recruit the staff we need to bring operations back to normal as quickly as possible”.

On its part, Alliance Healthcare said its “recruitment drive is progressing well”. The wholesaler has “a lot of new members to train and it can take time for new drivers to learn our processes and routes”, it said.

“As well as new drivers, we have also taken the opportunity to move some of our experienced drivers around the country to help out at hot spots where we have seen service disruption recently. We are grateful to these team members for helping in this way, travelling across the country and agreeing to leave their homes and stay in hotels to help out with the current situation,” Alliance wrote in an update on its website earlier this month (August 4).


Issues have gone on “for months”


Rifat Asghar-Hussain, superintendent pharmacist of Evergreen Pharmacy and Green Cross Pharmacy in Birmingham, claimed to C+D last week (August 12) that she has experienced delivery delays for the past four-to-five months, “but it’s getting worse”.

“We [sometimes] have automated calls around two hours before an expected delivery that we won’t get it,” she claimed.

Mike Hewitson, owner of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, told C+D yesterday (August 16) he has also experienced delayed deliveries from AAH and Alliance Healthcare.

“Friday’s order arrived on Saturday. I’m still waiting for Saturday’s,” Mr Hewitson claimed. “[I am] seeing lots of missed or delayed deliveries, which is making it difficult to advise patients.”

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