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Olympics pose threat to twice-daily pharmacy deliveries, BAPW warns

London pharmacies could suffer from "serious disruption" to their medicines supply this summer with twice-daily deliveries potentially "unworkable" during the Olympic games, the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (BAPW) has warned.

Congestion and Olympic traffic priority routes during the games could mean delivery drivers are delayed or cannot stop on some London roads, which could affect 500 pharmacies and make normal delivery practices impossible in some cases.

"We are very concerned that there is potential for serious disruption to day-to-day primary and secondary care medicines supply to pharmacies and hospitals," said Martin Sawer, executive director of the BAPW.

"The BAPW has mapped over 500 individual pharmacies in the London area whose normal twice-daily deliveries from BAPW wholesalers may not be able to take place for a combined period of over two months because of the road restrictions," he said.

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However, the BAPW is now working with its members to minimise disruption. Wholesalers will speak to individual pharmacies about supply arrangements, and possible solutions include a temporary reduction down to a once-daily service and businesses sharing deliveries.

In a letter to pharmacists, Geoff Mellor, technical director of the BAPW, said: "BAPW members might be forced to provide a once per ay delivery service. Please be assured that this decision has not been taken lightly, and that we and our members have directed a significant amount of time and resources in planning for the games."

Mr Sawer stressed that the association was planning for worst-case scenarios and that its members would help all affected pharmacies to come up with individual contingency plans to ensure supply continued throughout the games. "Deliveries will be affected, but they will get through," he said.

Pharmacy Voice and the BAPW are also continuing to press London authorities to modify the current plans for transportation during the Olympics to limit disruption to medicines supply.

Meanwhile, the NPA is producing a support pack, available from April, that will include information on business continuity, foreign drug identification, signposting to translation services, over the counter medicines for common minor ailments and changes to deliveries during the Olympics.

The association has also produced a short film for advising overseas travellers to the games about what they can expect from UK pharmacies.

"Pharmacy teams need to plan ahead [for the Olympics], and there is only a matter of weeks to go," said Leyla Hannbeck, head of information services at the NPA.

"For example, road closures may cause delivery disruptions so pharmacists should put a contingency plan in place to ensure continuity of supply," she said.

Pharmacists should also ensure staff are confident signposting patients to translation services and about foreign drug identification processes.

Will your pharmacy be affected by the Olympics?

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Sachin Badiani, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

If wholesalers cannot maintain twice daily deliveries, then does that mean pharmacies which are charged a fuel surcharge, given 50% off their surcharge bill at the end of the invoice month???

Though I bet, as always, pharmacies and wholesalers will always pull together and give best possible service.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

If there's one thing I've learnt about delivery drivers, it's that nothing short of the end of the world will stop them getting important drugs to where they need to go. Brilliant work they do.

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