Pharmacy services and how you can help the NHS


Our guest blogger this month is Healthwatch Camden Trustee, Mr. Sanjay Ganvir, a practicing Community Pharmacist for 26 years and Director at Green Light Pharmacy. Mr. Ganvir is an Honorary Lecturer at University College London and sits on several local education and health groups.

Views from the front line of the NHS response to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to our community pharmacies. They have never been so busy, coping with mountains of prescriptions, hugely increased demand for deliveries, and a massive number of queries from worried patients.

Many pharmacies are struggling with staff shortages, the remaining staff are working long hours to meet demand. I am incredibly proud of the professionalism shown by my colleagues who continue their important work getting people their medicines, advising the public and being open as a front-line NHS provider.

Safety is paramount

Pharmacies up and down the country have had to take steps to ensure the safety of our colleagues and patients. These include operating a limit on the number of patients that can be in the pharmacy at once, restricting the supply of some over-the-counter products to ensure there is a supply for everyone, and asking customers to keep 2 metres apart.

I appreciate that the new restrictions may be frustrating for our patients, but I hope people understand the need to have these restrictions in place. We must ensure that pharmacies stay open and that medicines can get to the people that need them. We must also keep our staff and patients safe.

How you can help

To help us cope under the pressure, I am asking Camden residents to:

  1. Please don’t go to your pharmacy if you or anyone in your household has a high temperature or a new and continuous cough – even if it’s mild; if this is the case then please go to to check your symptoms via the 111 online coronavirus service and follow the specialist medical advice
  2. Please don’t over-order your repeat prescriptions and instead order as you would normally do
  3. Please don’t use the pharmacy delivery service if you have somebody who can collect your prescriptions for you
  4. Please respect our staff, who provide vital NHS services. Please respect all frontline NHS workers.

And, be kind!

In this together

I am sad to say that some of my colleagues have experienced a lack of respect and even abuse from a small minority of customers. Please be patient – all pharmacies are under immense pressure, working around the clock to ensure that you get what you need.

We are all in this together, and pharmacy staff are equally worried about getting infected with COVID-19 and making their families ill. It’s a very difficult balancing act between our role as community pharmacists and the knowledge that we can make a loved one ill. But our staff are committed to keeping our pharmacy service running for residents of Camden.

Start ordering your prescriptions online

You can help the NHS by using online services. The UK government has written to millions of households across the country providing an update about Coronavirus and urging people to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. The letter instructs people to ‘use NHS online services or the NHS app to order repeat prescriptions.’

Camden residents have a number of options to order repeat prescriptions online, via the Patient Access website ‘EMIS Patient Access’, or via your Android and Apple smart phones using apps including the ‘Patient Access app’ and the ‘NHS App.’ In addition, you can sign up for the Electronic Prescription Service that allows GPs to send prescriptions electronically to your pharmacy. To make the most of the Electronic Prescription Service just make sure you have nominated your local pharmacy. Your local pharmacy can help you with using NHS-approved ways to order your prescription online, phone us and we’ll advise you.

You can find out more about Camden GPs online offer in Healthwatch Camden’s recent report. Information about medicine deliveries for those who are shielding is available in our news section.

Here for you and here to help

Pharmacies have long been the hub of our communities, where people will walk in for a chat and friendly professional advice. As a front-line NHS service, community pharmacy is open in this crisis and we’re here to help our wonderful patients and the amazing population of Camden.

I know things are different in the pharmacy than what you might be used to, with social distancing rules and sometimes a longer waiting time, but please bear with us and the rest of the NHS in these difficult times.

Remember to stay at home and protect the NHS – this saves lives. We’ll get through this together by looking after and being kind to each other. We are looking forward to welcoming you back to the pharmacy when the COVID-19 crisis is behind us and things get back to normal, but in the meantime, stay home and stay safe. And if you’re worried or need some professional advice give your local pharmacy a call.

If you would like more information about the services or topics mentioned in this Blog, please call Healthwatch Camden on 020 7383 2402 or email

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