UK driver crisis sparks ‘serious shortage’ warning over medical supplies – PM told to act

Fuel crisis: Drivers urged against panic buying petrol

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Chemists are now in limbo as they wait for the Government to release details of supportive measures that will help deal with the delays in the supply chain. Some pharmacists have warned this could see a “serious shortage protocol” introduced, a fallback that had been drafted previously by ministers in preparation for a hard Brexit.  This plan would allow pharmacists to supply alternate forms and strengths of medicines without the need to contact the prescriber.

The National Pharmacists Association (NPA), which acts as the trade association for independent community pharmacy professionals in the UK,

said on Sunday that it was aware that deliveries to some pharmacies had reduced.

It also said its members worked together and with local GPs to get needed medicines when they run into problems.

A spokesperson for the NPA said: “A resilient medicines supply chain is obviously vital to the health of the nation, so it’s important this isn’t allowed to escalate into a widespread problem that impacts patient care.”

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive officer of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, which represents more than 2,000 independent pharmacies around the UK, said that she had put pressed the Government to explain what measures were in place to ensure there was not a disruption in supply lines.

She said: “It was a question I asked at a round table with Government representatives, so hopefully we will get some reassurance.

“We do everything we can to make sure that we are prepared for any eventuality so that people are not left without medicines.”

There have already been reports that some orders have been arriving late, and some not even turning up.

The current fuel crisis is said to be making this worse as pharmacists who visit people’s homes are reluctant to do so.

The supply chain crisis has come as a result of a shortage of lorry drivers, which has facilitated the emergence of a fuel crisis, and as a result, delays and shortages of other transported goods too.

This includes everything from supermarket food to pharmaceutical drugs.

Claude Pereire, a pharmacist in London, told the Guardian: “At the moment I have about a quarter tank of petrol left and it is a concern.

“We rely on our cars to get us to those places, and if we can’t use them, then it’s an issue.

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“I went out at 5.30 [on Sunday morning] and went around a number of petrol stations in an attempt to get fuel, but I couldn’t. I’m crossing my fingers that things will calm down in the coming days.”

Mr Johnson is poised to sign off plans today to send in the Army to tackle the fuel crisis.

On Sunday, ministers discussed proposals to trigger Operation Escalin – a plan which would see “several hundred” soldiers brought in to drive petrol tankers – and are due to formally present the plans to the Prime Minister on Monday.

It comes after they were shown government figures suggesting that petrol stations across most of England had average stock levels below 20 per cent, enough for just one to two days.

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