Covid-19 is proving to be a serious threat to human life.  Yesterday, the UK population was advised to begin social distancing to try stem the spread of this virus.  In light of the seriousness of the situation, The Pharmacist Cooperative is working to promote the #4P campaign – Protect Pharmacies, Protect Patients.  This campaign is to raise awareness and protect anyone who works in pharmacy, or comes into a pharmacy. Given the fast evolving nature of this pandemic, we have compiled a list of safety measures you can take quickly and easily to ensure your staff and patients are protected:

1.   Follow basic hygiene measures.  This means encouraging everyone to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly – even if they’ve not done anything that requires hand washing.  Everyone should be frequently using alcohol based sanitiser where possible.  Keep a supply of tissues within easy reach so people are not coughing or sneezing into their hands.

2.   Keep your distance.  The government has recommended keeping at least two metre’s away from people to protect yourself, and them.  This includes staff.  This means creating an environment within your store where people can see that you are taking safety seriously.  Make use of posters and signs to make patients aware.  Discuss the implications of this with your staff.  Use caution signs to advise people that they should stand behind the lines you’ve marked on your shop floor.  We have examples of some of these on our twitter feed – take a look.

3.   Prepare a space in your pharmacy that can be used in the event of someone (patient or staff) who may present with Covid-19 symptoms.  Also ensure you have a support pack ready on standby for anyone who may present with such symptoms – this might include a bottle of water, tissues, and anything else you deem appropriate.

4.   In situations like this, communication is key. Ensuring staff are aware of the measures you have put in place and what the plan of action is if someone presents with cold or flu like symptoms.  This means you need to carefully consider the role each member of staff will play and how this would work in practice. This may mean having a practice run in anticipation.

The use of protective equipment has not been recommended by Public Health England as face masks and similar equipment in the community setting are not as effective as some suggest.  The equipment should only be used if you are entering a room in an emergency where a (possibly) infected person is present, or when decontaminating a room where such a person has been.

Social distancing has been identified as one of the main methods of controlling the spread of Covid-19.  This means you should stay at home if you (or any member of your team) have any of the symptoms that have been identified i.e. a cough or a fever. This is to protect yourself and those around you.

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