Will you be leaving the screens up in your pharmacy when Covid-19 has become a thing of the past?
It may be a leap in deductive reasoning, but it would not be surprising to find that acts of physical violence against pharmacists and their counter staff decreased somewhat during the pandemic, while theft of goods on shelves may have increased. Neither is desirable, but obviously one is far less desirable than the other. While increased public awareness of the importance of the role played by front-line healthcare staff is to be welcomed — if sometimes platitudinous — one wonders if this new appreciation has penetrated the judiciary. An overhaul of the ridiculously lenient punishments for those who threaten the safety of pharmacy staff is way past being overdue.
In the UK, the Metropolitan Police has advised contractors against divulging expected delivery times and has recommended that pharmacists install temporary barriers to protect deliveries of medicines and other goods (more expense!). It also recommends having at least two members of staff on duty at opening and closing times and the removal of identification lanyards when entering or leaving a premises.
UK pharmacists have also been advised not to inadvertently draw attention to the fact that extra quantities of controlled drugs are being stored on the premises, although this falls into the blatantly obvious category of common-sense advice.
From that same category, the UK National Business Crime Centre recommends: “Ensure any drugs or high-risk medication is locked in a security-rated safe which is either bolted to the floor or secured to the wall. If there is not sufficient storage space within the safe, any excess controlled drugs should be kept in a locked room.”
While the screens may present some kind of interpersonal barrier between you and your patient or customer, it will be interesting to see the next update on crime statistics in Irish pharmacies now that the barriers are in place.
On the subject of the ‘new normal’ that everybody is talking about, Covid-19 has of course driven much of the business of pharmacy online.
The previously less computer-literate among us have already been compelled to get our digital act together via the CPD system operated by the IIOP, so that must have helped on some level, but there may be a sustained decrease in footfall post-Covid once many general customers realise they don’t necessarily have to physically visit their local pharmacy.
Ill patients will be a different matter and as doctors would confirm, while a virtual consultation is of certain value, nothing can replace the face-to-face experience, particularly when it comes to dermatological conditions.
The post-Covid-19 community pharmacist may need to evolve, but they have a proven track record in that regard.