Thousands of medication deliveries made by firefighters, as pharmacy support work ends

Almost 3,000 medication deliveries have been made by Northamptonshire firefighters to ‘at risk’ individuals as part of a support scheme which draws to a close this week.

Throughout the pandemic, firefighters have been working to help those who are shielding and at particular risk from Covid-19 by volunteering to aid in pharmacy deliveries to people’s homes.

Firefighters are expected to make their final deliveries from pharmacies to shielding patients at the end of this week.

The end of this work by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) coincides with the government’s move to pause shielding (from August 1). Current guidance is that this will remain true unless transmission rates for Covid-19 increase significantly within the community.

In total, firefighters from 11 of NFRS’s on-call fire stations have been called on to assist in the deliveries. Support has also been provided by whole-time crews and members of NFRS’s Home Safety Team.

Lisa Bryan, Prevention, Safeguarding & Partnerships Manager at NFRS, said: “We were asked to help support with pharmacy deliveries quite soon after lockdown began and I’m so proud of those who have taken part in this work.

“We know the arrival of this pandemic left so many people particularly vulnerable to the worst effects of Covid-19, so having access to medication deliveries at home went some way to minimising their daily risk levels.

“I know NFRS firefighters and staff were really happy to support this work and found it so rewarding to be supporting the community in this very different way.

“We hope the whole community continue to follow government advice with hand washing, staying alert and maintaining social distancing to keep everyone as safe as possible from this potentially deadly virus.”

Early on in the pandemic, NFRS was asked to support the community resilience partnership response to the pandemic by aiding in pharmacy deliveries to those who are ‘shielding’.

Having medication deliveries brought to their door, direct from dispensing GP practices and pharmacies, helped protect these people from needing to venture out because of necessity.

Anne-Marie King, Chief Officer, Pharmacy Northamptonshire, said: “Community pharmacy are extremely grateful for the hugely successful and much needed support offered by NFRS.
During the national lockdown for coronavirus, in addition to using volunteers to deliver medicines, the Government funded all community pharmacies to provide a medicines delivery service. These medicines deliveries were for those patients who needed it most, i.e. those who were shielding and had no-one to collect medicines for them.”

As the lockdown eases and people can now go outside more, the Government’s shielding support package will end on Friday, July 31, 2020. This will also bring the national pharmacy medicines delivery service to a close.

With the end of the national delivery service, pharmacies will no longer receive any Government or NHS funding to help them continue to offer such a service.

Pharmacy Northamptonshire asks that, if you still need help to get your medicines, please:
• ask a friend or relative to collect them for you
• ask your pharmacy team what options might be available to you. Many pharmacies have arranged to keep providing deliveries for some of the most vulnerable patients. Ask a member of the pharmacy team about the terms and conditions.
• call NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm) to arrange support.

More advice on government shielding guidance is available from: https://bit.ly/3g5Gpdw

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