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Call for RPS letter as ID for priority supermarket shopping slots

RPS: Dedicated shopping slots "a huge source of support and comfort to pharmacy teams"
RPS: Dedicated shopping slots "a huge source of support and comfort to pharmacy teams"

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has asked supermarkets to make sure pharmacy staff can access priority shopping slots for NHS workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The representative body has put together a template letter that pharmacy staff can show when shopping during the dedicated slots supermarkets have created for NHS staff throughout the outbreak.

The RPS contacted the British Retail Consortium (BRC) earlier this week (March 25) to ask for its help in ensuring all pharmacy staff can access these priority shopping times.

Some pharmacy staff do not have an NHS ID, the RPS said. It therefore asked supermarkets to accept other forms of identification, such as the template letter.

The letter will need to be validated with a stamp from the pharmacy staff member’s workplace before being presented as a proof of identity in supermarkets.

The BRC told C+D earlier this week (March 25) that it is raising the issue with its members.

“Support and comfort”

RPS president Sandra Gidley said: “Pharmacy teams are critical key NHS workers on the frontline supporting patients and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The opportunity for dedicated priority shopping would be a huge source of support and comfort to pharmacy teams right across the country.”

You can download a copy of RPS’s letter here.

“No difference”

Amish Patel, managing director at Hodgson Pharmacy in Longfield, Kent, told C+D earlier this week (March 25) that while dedicated shopping slots for NHS staff is a “nice gesture”, it “makes no difference”.

“There are no dedicated slots online. In stores…, no one [is] checking…if [someone is an] NHS worker.

“Even when you do get in, there is no food. Only today, Waitrose has been a saviour having kept aside some essentials,” he said.

Sadik Al-Hassan, manager of Well Pharmacy in Kingswood, Bristol, told C+D that he believes allowing groups of NHS staff in stores at the same time is “a mistake from an infection control point of view… [as] some still wear scrubs from work”.

He recently queued at the checkout at his local Tesco for 45 minutes his during NHS staff opening hours, he added.

Scottish pharmacy staff

Pharmacy staff in Scotland can provide a template letter written by Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) when shopping in Tesco and Morrisons.

These are the only two supermarket chains that are on board with the CPS’s initiative so far, the negotiating body wrote in an update published on its website yesterday (March 26).

15 Comments
Question: 
What do you think of the RPS's initiative?

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

Please have some sympathy on Counter Assistants and Delivery Drivers, who have never had a chance at dispensing a medicine and have been not issued with a NHS Smart card. So, in my opinion a simple letter issued by the Pharmacy on it's Letterheaded paper with the details of such person as working in the Pharmacy should have been sufficient. But, the world thinks otherwise.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Not been a problem here, I have my NHS Smartcard.

Mark Ashmore, Superintendent Pharmacist

Why on earth haven't the vast majority of essential pharmacy staff not already got an NHS Smartcard? 

They should have been part of both business continuity as well NHS data protection and would have given access to discounts available to NHS Staff.

 

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

Please have some sympathy on Counter Assistants and Delivery Drivers, who have never had a chance at dispensing a medicine and have been not issued with a NHS Smart card. So, in my opinion a simple letter issued by the Pharmacy on it's Letterheaded paper with the details of such person as working in the Pharmacy should have been sufficient. But, the world thinks otherwise.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It shows some of the levels of unprofessionalism in the industry, in my opinion. How many times do you see someone sharing smartcards with one another?

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Exactly! If they haven't even bothered to get a smartcard, then are they even working for the NHS?! 

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

'Pharmacy teams are critical key NHS workers'. We might think that, but we are hardly mentioned in all announcement by politicians

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Oh, get over it Uma. You were mentioned, in fact, Pharmacists were specifically mentioned in the last couple of announcements. He even corrected himself to include the word Pharmacists. Be humble.

Richard MacLeavy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Yes we are mentioned Uma, We are "distritibutors of medicines" remember?

John Boey, Community pharmacist

Not a uniquely British problem, it is also endemic here in Malaysia. We don't have to fight for groceries yet, but I've heard that the head of enforcement of Consumer Affairs was disrespectful to our pharmaceutical society president. He questioned to the effect of implying we are hoarding surgical masks in order to force the government to raise the ceiling price of masks. I don't have any stock to sell and I only have enough to last a couple of weeks for my staff.

On Break, Community pharmacist

Hopefully soon we might be. Outside of hospital staff we seem to be absolutely key during this pandemic since gps have closed their doors. Shops aren't so busy now as last week so not sure how useful priority shopping is. Thanks PDA for my ID now I am allowed out.

 

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

The PDA have already done it.  Thanks RPS - our professional representative body -  for being so slow off the mark.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

The PDA one is a bit cheesy tbh! 

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

Don't know why you got a dislike - it is cheesy!  But it looks good on my car windscreen ...

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I'm a bit wary of leaving identifiers out at the moment, with the recent targeting of NHS vehicles.

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