Ministers blasted for denial as pharmacists ‘never seen it so bad’

Rishi Sunak faces question on NHS crisis

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A series of issues are stretching pharmacists who are struggling to provide patients with medication amid shortages. Pharmacy leaders have claimed that even basic cold and flu medicines are in short supply due to a lack of planning by the Government.

Parents are struggling to find Calpol for their children as there is a severe shortage of the popular medicine.

The Sun was told that Calpol is “virtually non existent” in a number of pharmacies which has prompted response from the manufacturer.

Johnson and Johnson said: “We are experiencing high consumer demand driven by an extremely challenging cold and flu season.

“We recognise this is a difficult time for parents and caregivers, and we are doing everything we can to make sure people have access to the Calpol products they need, including maximising out production capacity.

“While products may be less reality available at some stores, we are not experiencing widespread shortages.”

Mike Hewitson, a pharmacist from Somerset, told The Sun he has “never seen the situation this bad” as stocks of all cold and flu medicines run low.

The Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said that ministers have been “in denial” about the drug supply chain issues.

The chief executive Leyla Hannbeck said pharmacists are unable to supply patients with throat lozenges, cough medicines and certain pain relief.

“Pharmacists are struggling to obtain the very basic, most common cold and flu medicine,” Hannbeck said.

The Pharmaceutical executive added that the shortages speak to the wider issue which has seen reduced access to other medications such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and some antibiotics.

She added: “We are constantly finding ourselves in a situation when as soon as the demand for something goes up, we are struggling.

“Part of that is a lack of planning by officials in foreseeing the problems and trying to sort it.”

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Pharmacists have expressed their concerns that the shortages will add further pressure to the NHS as families go to their GP or A&E.

Hannbeck said: “When people go to pharmacies and try and get hold of the products over the counter, particularly for small children, then people start to stress and panic and what we don’t want to happen is for more people to go to their GP or A&E.”

She also accused the Government of “troubleshooting rather than having robust plans to sort problems out” after they gave pharmacists extra powers to substitute certain types of drugs amid serious shortages in medicines to treat strep A.

Those who are concerned about their symptoms can call NHS advice line 111 before contacting their GP or emergency services.

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