Coronavirus and community pharmacies: Your questions answered

Swindon and Wiltshire's Chief Officer of Community Pharmacy answers your frequently asked questions.
woman talking to male pharmacist

Why are we having to queue outside and only be let in one at a time?

Many pharmacies are relatively small, confined spaces. To maintain consistent 2m (15 minutes) or 1m (short interaction) distancing, waiting customers and patients may be asked to wait outside. This is for the protection of both customers and staff.

What happens if a pharmacy closes?

Many pharmacies will have made changes to their opening times, often opening an hour later than usual, and will be closed at lunchtime, in order to catch up with the increased demand for prescriptions. 

A pharmacy may also have to close at short notice, for example if the only pharmacist on site is unwell. 

All efforts will be made to re-open as soon as possible, however this can take time to identify alternative staff and travel time.

If longer term closures (more than a few hours/rest of the day), become necessary patients will be directed to another pharmacy or alternative arrangements made for supply of medicines held for patients in the pharmacy. 

What is happening to the price of paracetamol?

Where there is a sudden increase in demand for something, prices tend to rise. This can be due to the need to change supply routes and an increase in manufacturing.  Pharmacies are already seeing increased wholesale prices and unfortunately will need to pass these on.

Profiteering can never be supported and any instances reported will be investigated by our regulator the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

Why can’t I have 3 months' supply or order my prescription medicines early?

Supplying increased quantities will cause the same problems with medicines that we have seen with panic buying in the supermarkets. There is no shortage, but one will be created by changes in supply patterns.

If you stock up on the lifesaving medicines you need, someone else could suffer. 

If you have symptoms of coronavirus

Or you have been in contact with someone with symptoms, please stay at home and don't go to the pharmacy. Ask a relative, friend or neighbour to collect your prescription on your behalf. Some pharmacies may be able to deliver your prescription for you.

Your local community support group may be able to help you with prescriptions. 

Find out more

One of the priorities for the NHS Volunteer Responders is collecting and delivering prescriptions.

Read more about the Responders scheme

Collecting a prescription for someone else? 

  • Go to the right pharmacy.
  • Know the name and address of the person you are collecting for.
  • It may save time in the pharmacy if you know which medicines you are expecting.
  • Find out if the patient pays for their prescriptions (£9.15 per item). Some pharmacies will accept payment from the patient in advance over the phone by credit or debit card. If they don't pay for prescriptions, ask which exemption applies to them. 
  • Don't open the prescription package. 
  • Please don't be offended if a pharmacist asks for ID or refuses to hand over certain items. 
  • Always ask the pharmacist if you are unsure about anything. 
  • For safety reasons, you may only be able to collect one prescription at a time.
  • Please avoid pharmacies if you are showing symptoms of Covid-19. 

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