What PPE is needed in pharmacies?

A male pharmacist is selecting a drug from a display case in a pharmacy. By @nci on Unsplash.

The latest guidance for health and care settings from Public Health England can be found by following this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-infection-prevention-and-control

It is compulsory for all retail staff, including pharmacy workers, to wear a face mask in addition to social distancing and hand hygiene for staff and visitors. On 24th September 2020 it became compulsory for community pharmacy staff to wear a face coverings in areas which are open to the public or where they have the chcnace of coming within close contact of a member of the public. Outlined below are examples of where a pharmacy staff member will need to wear PPE and what would be appropiate:

  • Interactions with patients when staff are working in an area with possible or confirmed cases and are unable to maintain 2 metre social distance. It is important to use sessional periods of a Type IIR face mask, these are fluid resistant surgical masks. One session could be half a day period with the break in the middle being a lunch break, and then starting a new mask after the break.

  • If staff are providing direct care to a patient, where there is a possibility of the patient being infected with COVID-19 and there is anticipated exposure to body fluids or non-infact skin. Here there are multiple precautions that are necessary to take, using a disposable plastic apron which are single use and for only one patient. Type IIR mask, either single use or sessional, and nitrile gloves which are single use must be worn.

  • If staff are providing direct care to a patient where there is no possibility of the patient being infected with COVID-19 and there is no anticipated exposure to blood, body fluids or non-intact skin. It is still important to use a sessional Type IIR face mask which are fluid resistant. Hand hygiene must be observed before, after and in between different patients.

  • When staff are working in the dispensary with other colleagues it is considered not COVID-19 secure if the staff can not maintain a social distance between each other at all times. In this case, a Type I or Type II face mask should be worn to prevent potential spread between colleagues. If Type IIR face masks are readily available and have no issues with sourcing then these can be used as an alternative to Type I or Type II masks.

It is important to note that the use of PPE does not remove the need for other measures to continue to be implemented such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and being overly cautious about COVID-19 symptoms.

Zoe Brightmore
About the author

Zoe Brightmore

Zoe is a volunteer of PPE4People. A recent BSc neuroscience graduate with experience in scientific writing and two new kittens.