9 a.m. on November 14, 2021
Recovering alcoholic and PTSD says pharmacist shortage puts him at risk because he cannot access his medications.
Jon Williamson, 42, goes to Lloyds Pharmacy on West End Street in Norwich every Friday to pick up his prescription, which involves controlled pain medication that is dispensed to him weekly.
Over the past two months, he says the pharmacy has often closed early or not open at all.
A spokesperson for Lloyds said the pharmacy’s priority was to provide the best possible service to patients, but recruiting new pharmacists had become very difficult.
She explained, “It is widely recognized that there is a very real shortage in some parts of the country.
“Simply put, there are not enough pharmacists to meet the demand and the reduction in the number of pharmacy graduates is making the problem worse.
“We have an action plan in place to resolve staffing issues and are actively recruiting new hires.
“But this situation requires an industry-wide response and is not something community pharmacy providers can solve on their own.”
Controlled drugs are subject to high levels of government regulation and are named in the Drug Abuse Act. There are strict limits on the amount that can be prescribed at any time.
Mr Williamson said he feared what would happen to people who depend on him if they missed even a day of medication.
He said: “Recently the pharmacy has been open for a few hours here and there.
“Last Friday and Saturday they didn’t even let us in because they said it was unsafe due to too few staff.
“People had to stand and wait 45 minutes in the rain while they only operated ‘door service’.
“If the pharmacy is closed when I go to pick up my medication, it puts me in danger.
“I take controlled pain relievers, neuroleptics, antidepressants, and medications to help control cravings for alcohol.
“I have been sober since June 2019. The last thing I want is to be left without my meds.
“A few weeks ago a neighbor of mine had to go to Oak Street in a wheelchair to get his prescription. It’s a joke.”
What is causing the problem?
It’s not just Lloyds who are affected, but community chemists nationwide.
Pharmacists have been added to the Interior Ministry’s shortage occupation lists, so it is easier for foreign recruits to work here.
But according to a spokesperson for the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), the shortage was itself created by Covid, Brexit and ongoing NHS reforms, making it harder to attract people to the UK. United.
This is made worse by the lack of new college hires and the fact that the new NHS primary care networks have absorbed 10% of the community pharmacist workforce in recent years.
Malcolm Harrison, CEO of CCA, said: “The pressures pharmacists face and the creation of new positions in the NHS when insufficient additional pharmacists are trained pose a significant threat to healthcare in England.
“Basically, without action, patients’ access to drugs is likely to suffer.”