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Community pharmacy services during the COVID-19 pandemic: Insights from providers and policy makers

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-01-05, 16:30 authored by Harriet Warr, Ankesh Gandhi, Syed Hussain, Daniel Greenwood

Background: Readily accessible to the public, community pharmacies (CPs) were placed under increased pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic. In England, dispensing volume increased by 25% between February and March 2020. This followed a decade of stagnant government funding, which has been attributed to CP closures. If another pandemic emerged, the reduced number of CPs may face increased pressures.

Objective:To explore CP service provision in England throughout the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspectives of providers and policy makers, including what can be learned in preparation for any future pandemic.

Methods: CP providers (n = 10) and policy makers (n = 6) were interviewed via telephone between June and September 2021. Interviews were transcribed and then analysed thematically using NVivo.

Results: Pandemic specific pressures were identified, as well as long-term issues which preceded the pandemic. Increased workload was recognised by both providers and policy makers due to changes in prescribing habits and was exacerbated by staff shortages. CP staff safety was a major concern, with limited personal protective equipment provided despite being open to the public. General Practitioner (GP) surgeries received more protective equipment than CP and still referred patients to pharmacy e.g., for a blood pressure check.

Conclusions: The pandemic re-confirmed CPs role of providing accessible healthcare, particularly medicines provision, but also highlighted the demand for in-person clinical services. Improved communication channels between CP and GP surgeries are required, as is pandemic prescribing guidance to ensure appropriate prescribing to safeguard the medicines supply chain. To ensure the health of all providers is fairly protected, activities which require in-person contact or can be undertaken remotely by CP, GP surgeries and other providers should be reviewed. For pandemic preparation, legislative changes are required which empower pharmacy to fully contribute to patient care. A review of pharmacy funding and staffing is also needed to ensure services are sustainable.



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Publication title

Exploratory Research in Clinical and Social Pharmacy




Elsevier BV


United States

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  • eng

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research-article, Journal Article

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