Regular pharmacy closures in Ludlow are bad for people’s health

Regular pharmacy closures in Ludlow are bad for people’s health

A few days ago, Boots was closed all day. Lack of pharmacist. A few days before that, Lloyds was closed all day. Lack of pharmacist. Yesterday, Brown and Francis was closed except for emergencies.

These are not isolated incidents. There have been a dozen or more closures this year. Often, they are all day. Sometimes there is hope that a pharmacist will arrive in the afternoon. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. In any event, people who don’t live in the town centre can’t keep dropping back to see if the pharmacy is open.

This is not like shopping for a tin of beans. For many people, medication is vital and must be administered daily or more often. A gap in taking pills, injections or inhalers could have serious health consequences.

The root of the problem is a nationwide shortage of trained pharmacists and technicians. The recent surge in Covid-19 cases has also exacerbated staff shortages. In rural areas like Ludlow, with our smaller pharmacies, the lack of a pharmacist always leads to the outlet being closed.

Are we worse than elsewhere? It is difficult to judge but the Company Chemists’ Association said in November, temporary and permanent closures of community pharmacies will “be unavoidable” if the government does not take action to resolve the pharmacist workforce crisis. Patient access to care, medicines and advice will also be compromised.

In March last year, pharmacists were added to the Home Office’s shortage occupation list because there are not enough pharmacy professionals in the UK to serve patient needs. This is at a time when pharmacies are being asked to do more in primary health care to alleviate the pressure on GPs. Fewer people are choosing pharmacy as a career option and many pharmacists are being recruited into primary care networks (local groups of GP practices) to provide specialist medication advice to patients and care homes. It is an irony that pharmacies are being asked to expand their healthcare services to relieve GPs while at the same time GP networks are recruiting ten of thousands of pharmacists into practices increasing shortages for community pharmacies.

When the pharmacies are open, the staff are often rushed off their feet catching up with the backlog and there is a wait for prescriptions, sometimes hours even though the pharmacy has had the prescription for days. People have recently had to queue outside at one pharmacy to avoid overcrowding.

I have heard reports of verbal abuse being hurled at pharmacy staff when prescriptions are unavailable. That is unacceptable. The staff are doing their utmost and are not responsible for the shortage of pharmacists.

Patients are advised that they cannot order repeat prescriptions more than seven days in advance. There is a logic to that as it balances demand with supply and it limits stockpiling of medicines that might not be used. However, with the pharmacies closed some days, it can take ten days to get medication after a prescription has been issued.

Comments from local customers via social media

A chemist cannot dispense without a pharmacist there. No one locally is to blame. They are doing their best in difficult circumstances.

All the chemists have been working as hard as they can to sort things out for customers.

I have heard that they have been subjected to rudeness and even abuse from some customers. That is not ok. I understand people are frustrated, but do not take it put on the people who are there trying their best. They are working under a huge amount of pressure.

[My pharmacy] have been awful for ages. I order my meds every 2 weeks in advance of when I collect so that they will be there. They told me they only need 7 days’ notice, however every time I go, they are never ready and I have to wait. So annoying as I don’t live in Ludlow and Saturday is the only day I can go. I have changed [to pharmacy] in the hope of a better service.

I ordered a prescription through the Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) for the lady I support. She pays £55 a year for delivery. Phoned Friday as heard nothing, no reply. Later saw on Facebook they were closed!! Phoned yesterday 9am, was told the prescription was there, they couldn’t get it out for delivery despite me telling them she’s completely out of the one item but I could collect before 1pm as they had a pharmacist until then. My colleague went to collect but closed as no pharmacist!!! We’ve heard nothing from them today regarding delivery, again, despite them knowing she’s out of one item and them telling me the script is there.

Hi, we have been struggling for a couple of months to get repeat medicines, my prescription took several weeks from ordering after Christmas, I was completely out of my ulcer medication and thyroid medication, my ulcer started playing up causing a lot of pain, I ended up borrowing medicine from a friend who was on the same one to help get the pain under control. This week again struggling, my husband who has chronic condition requiring medication at regular times, ordered over a week ago. We called [the pharmacy] on Monday who said they would only be able to put part of the prescription out, as my husband was completely out and now suffering significantly. He went in to town, 20 minutes journey, to find a note saying closed until 2pm. As we are farmers, he came home asking someone else to call in at 2pm. She called to find they were not opening. He had no medication until we collected it this afternoon. This is not good. We are not allowed to order in advance then the pharmacy is struggling so we end up lurching from crisis to crisis every month.

Prescriptions are bad. My husband has been waiting 2 weeks for his so he phoned the Drs today and they told him they had sent it to [the pharmacy] two weeks ago. So, he will go there tomorrow and hope they will have them. He is not a happy bunny…. It doesn’t make sense when they close and have a back log the next day. It never used to be like this. [The pharmacy] doesn’t even phone any more to say if the prescription is ready or if you are getting on okay with a new drug.

[The pharmacy] has made me wait for quite some time the last 4 times I have called for my prescription. Staff keep their heads down, no eye contact. It feels as though you are being ignored. When they do acknowledge you, they then say the prescription is not ready and will be another 20 minutes. Why? On top of that, twice they have not been able to fulfil the prescription and I have had to call back. I called back Friday of last week and they had closed the shop! Very poor.

One thought on “Regular pharmacy closures in Ludlow are bad for people’s health

  1. It also seems wrong that the Repeat Prescription ordering line is not effective. My partner phoned and was call No. 28 !!

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