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News > Alumni News > From the Frontline of Covid-19 - Ashwin Bhatt

From the Frontline of Covid-19 - Ashwin Bhatt

The steepest learning curve known by Pharmacists keeping up with old and new demands
14 May 2020
Alumni News

It has been a steep learning curve since I qualified as a pharmacist two years ago and started managing our local family community pharmacy. Throughout this coronavirus pandemic, local pharmacies and pharmacists have been under pressure. This is primarily due to an increased requirement to fulfil patients’ prescriptions, for example an increased demand for steroids and reliever inhalers which could be attributed to increased media coverage, highlighting the negative respiratory effects of Covid-19. More patients have required pharmacist-led interventions, for example inhaler technique consultations and asthma prevention plans to avoid additional hospital admissions.  

An increased number of patients have been accessing pharmacy services for minor ailments, such as management of acute pain, hay fever, minor bites or infections and emergency contraception. This advice has eased the demand for GP appointments and allows doctors and other allied health professionals to assess patients who have more complex needs or need urgent referrals to hospital.   

Many young families have visited us at Rainbow Pharmacy because they could not find stock of nappies, baby milk or other basic medications such as Calpol, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. With no real alternatives, this is often a challenging situation.

In March when the lockdown began, I saw our prescription workload increase by 25%, which meant early morning starts and late evening finishes, to ensure quick dispensing and supply of medicines. Patients who were most vulnerable and in the shielding groups required prescription deliveries allowing them to stay at home, as instructed by the government. The number of prescriptions which have been delivered over the last month has increased two-fold. This, coupled with basic medication shortages, such as anti-depressants, inhalers and vital anti-epileptic medication at the same time as export bans from China and India, makes working in our sector incredibly challenging. 

To increase access to pharmacy services but maintain adequate social distancing, I have had to limit the number of patients in the pharmacy to four and installed physical barriers at the patient counter to protect my staff. The School kindly donated face visors which I and all of our staff have been using alongside face masks and gloves, trust me this is not comfortable at all! 

Now, more than ever, it is appreciated that our service is vital to our community, especially for vulnerable patients. Let’s all pull together to beat the virus and help everyone to stay at home, stay safe and support all our staff working in the NHS. 

Stay safe,

Ashwin Bhatt
Class of 2013

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