Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - Pharmacists Are Unsung Heroes

During the Covid-19 outbreak, there have been a number of unsung heroes who have worked tirelessly to support their local communities – one such group is pharmacists and their teams.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Taw Hill Pharmacy owner Charlie Wu, and local community pharmacist Gurinder Singh, to hear how the Covid-19 outbreak has affected pharmacies.

Understandably, the outbreak has significantly increased demand for pharmacy services.

While GP surgeries were only able to take emergency appointments, people have been visiting their pharmacies for advice and guidance on Covid-19 and other health issues.

It was great to hear Charlie talk about how his team had really stepped up to meet this demand, even staying open late to do so.

Speaking to Charlie and Gurinder, it was apparent just how important pharmacies are to their local communities, and the vital role they play in supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

As an example, many seriously ill people were told to shield throughout the outbreak and asked not to leave their house, which made collecting essential medicines a problem.

As such, many pharmacies across the UK, including Taw Hill Pharmacy, went to the effort of delivering medicines to their elderly and vulnerable customers.

During the (socially distanced!) meeting, Gurinder was also keen to highlight the importance of flu jabs as we enter the autumn and winter seasons.

Not only can flu jabs protect elderly and vulnerable people from flu but could also help Covid testing by reducing the number of people displaying the flu-like symptoms that might need to be tested. This year, for the first time anyone between 50 to 64 years old will be able to get a flu jab for free as part of the second phase of vaccinations being rolled out later this year. The Government is also working to double the number of people who are vaccinated this year from 15 million to 30 million.

On Wednesday, the Government also amended the rules on Covid-19, the main change being that from Monday people will not be able to meet in groups larger than six. I appreciate that this is disappointing, but the decision has been made on the basis of scientific and medical advice to manage the increase in recorded infections.

The country has progressed significantly in the last couple of months and currently hospital admissions and deaths are relatively low, it is vital that we don’t jeopardise this.

September is Blood Cancer Awareness month, which aims to raise awareness and highlight the urgent need for more stem cell donors in light of the challenges to donor recruitment presented by the pandemic. Anthony Nolan, a charity supporting people with blood cancer or blood disorders, is appealing for more people from North Swindon, particularly men aged 16-30 and people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, to register as stem cell donors and make sure that a match is available for everyone in need of a transplant.

While anyone on the register could be a match for someone with blood cancer, men aged 16-30 are most likely to be asked to donate. They provide more than 50 per cent of donations yet make up just 18 per cent of the register. There is also a shortage of donors from non-white and mixed-race backgrounds.

I would encourage people to consider registering as a potential donor, you really could change someone’s life. To join the register visit anthonynolan.org/join

Posted in Articles, Featured on