PHARMACISTS in Worcester say they still have enough masks for staff - but sourcing them for customers is becoming ‘impossible’ during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pharmacist David Ogle says his pharmacy, DL Ogle in St John’s in Worcester, will put up screens this week to protect both his staff and customers from the virus.

The acrylic screens, paid for out of a £300 allocation from the NHS, are expected to arrive either tomorrow or Thursday. Staff are still using the personal protective equipment (PPE) sent to them by NHS England which includes masks, gloves and aprons. However, he said it was increasingly difficult to get PPE for customers because of the high demand. “Getting hold of masks for the public is impossible,” he said.

The pharmacy has been operating a locked door policy, letting two people in at a time and has been open reduced hours - 9.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 5.30pm daily as opposed to the usual 8.30am to 6pm hours.

Mr Ogle said pharmacists and staff were working harder than ever in those two and a half hours when the pharmacy was closed to the public.

“I have never seen anything like it and I have been qualified since 1992. I’m proud of what we have managed to do here under intense pressure,” he said.

A pharmacist at Scales Pharmacy in Upper Tything, Worcester, said they had not experienced a shortage in PPE for staff and said: “At the moment we have enough.”

He said because they were a small pharmacy with fewer staff it was less of a challenge to source PPE than larger pharmacies. However, he confirmed they were running low on supplies for customers although he said ‘wholesalers were trying their best for us’. Kitson’s in Broad Street had enough PPE for staff but, in a similar patten, was running low on supplies for customers. A pharmacist there said the guidance was to wear masks not gloves but that the wearing of masks was left to the preference of individual staff.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) says that a diminished supply of equipment such as masks, gloves and aprons places an unnecessary level of danger on pharmacists and could endanger the lives of many at-risk customers.

RPS director of pharmacy Robbie Turner said pharmacists had been told to buy PPE from wholesalers, which have been either out of stock or charging expensive prices.