The County Councils Network (CCN) has warned some pharmacies in rural areas may struggle to deliver medicine as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.
Figures compiled by the CCN show that county areas, many of which have large rural and remote parts, have just one pharmacy per 766 people aged over 70, the most at-risk group and those most likely to require medicine.
This compares to 366 people for every one pharmacy in London.
The CCN says that councils are ready to step in and support the efforts to ensure that no vulnerable ‘at risk’ person goes without these vital supplies.
And it has also written to the government urging them to enable council volunteers to help with the effort.
It claims that pharmacies have so far been ‘understandably’ reluctant to use council volunteers over privacy fears, but in many areas thousands of volunteers have come forward – many of whom have been DBS checked – and councils are ready to deploy them to help the effort if guidance is produced allowing those who pass checks to do so.
‘This is a public health emergency and councils are keen to support our local community pharmacies increase their capacity, especially in rural and remote areas where there are fewer pharmacies per head for our residents,’ said the CCN’s rural spokesman, Cllr Julian German.
‘However, at present pharmacies are unable to take up this offer as they have concerns over privacy and who would be liable if something went wrong. This is why we are calling on the government to clarify that volunteers, where extensively screened, can be used.
‘Many county leaders are reporting real concerns that elderly and sick people may go without medicines, particularly those in rural and remote areas. This is not the pharmacies’ fault, who are doing a wonderful job in difficult circumstances, but it is clear they may not have the capacity alone to deliver to all residents who need their support. In times of national crisis, everyone works better together. We stand ready to help,’ added Cllr German.
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