SOMERSET'S community pharmacies are working hard to meet people’s medicines and healthcare needs.

Pharmacy teams have seen an increase in demand for over-the-counter medicines, advice and reassurance.

Staff are under intense pressure, working on the frontline of the health service often without any protection for their health.

To help pharmacies cope, the Local Pharmaceutical Committee is asking patients and members of the public to:

•Avoid pharmacies if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 such as a dry, persistent cough, fever or shortness of breath;

•Be patient as all pharmacies are under immense pressure and working around the clock to ensure that you get what you need.

•Order medicines as normal. Ordering extra prescriptions and buying more over-the-counter medicines than you need will contribute to disruption to the medicines supply chain.

Pharmacies will remain open wherever possible, but some may reduce times during which they admit members of the public. This enables pharmacy teams to carry out tasks such as preparing prescriptions and restocking shelves.

If you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, stay at home and ask someone else to go to the pharmacy for you.

Michael Lennox, chief officer of the Somerset LPC, said: “Community pharmacy teams are a really important part of the NHS, and like all other NHS workers, they are under pressure at the moment.

"We are asking patients and members of the public to take some very simple steps to help protect these teams so that pharmacies can continue to carry out their critical roles and ensure that everyone continues to get the medicines, help and support they need when they need it.”

“You can also help us by only requesting your usual supply of medications when required and not try and do it early or order extra, to help the supply chain keep up with demand.

"We will make sure suitable provision is made for people self-isolating owing to illness or being in at-risk groups.

“Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.”

Things you can do to stop the infection spreading:

•wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

•use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

•cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

•put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

•stay two metres (three steps) away from other people, if you need to go outside.