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Pharmacists ‘stressed’ as people try to collect lateral flow tests every five minutes

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 29th December 2021

Pharmacies are facing a ‘huge problem’ as demand for lateral flow tests continues to outstrip a ‘patchy’ supply, experts say.

People are reportedly turning up to pharmacies every five minutes hoping to collect a box of rapid tests – but they don’t always get one.

It’s led to a ‘stressful’ situation for both pharmacists and patients.

The huge spike in demand for lateral flow tests has been triggered by changes to self-isolation rules.

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People now only need to isolate for seven days, rather than 10, as long as they test negative on both day six and day seven of their quarantine period.

Lateral flow test supply remains ‘patchy’. Credit: iStock Photo

The public has also been urged to use lateral flow tests before attending events or seeing vulnerable family members.

Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association Of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, told BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme that demand is high, but supply is inconsistent.

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“What our members are telling us is that demand for the lateral flow tests is very high at the moment due to the current guidelines around self-isolation,” she said.

“Every five minutes, approximately, somebody comes into the pharmacy and asks for tests.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“But unfortunately because of the issues around supply being patchy and inconsistent it means that those who come forward for the test don’t always get it, which is very stressful not just for the pharmacy but also for the patients.

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“The scale of the problem is huge because the demand is high, because of the current guidelines.

“People are doing the responsible thing by wanting to be tested and we are in the Christmas area of time, and the New Year is just around the corner and people want to be with family and friends.”

She also told Today: “It just simply isn’t enough to meet the demand and it’s patchy.

Read more: NHS worker finds ‘Chinese prisoner’s ID’ sewn into coat made by Manchester-owned clothing brand

“Some days you get one box delivered and other days none. It isn’t enough for the pharmacies to deliver to the patients.

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“We want to make sure that the message is clear to the Government that the supply needs to be consistent.”

People are also able to order lateral flow tests for home delivery through the Government website – but kits are often unavailable.

Many people are repeatedly met with a message that reads: “Sorry, there are no home delivery slots left for rapid lateral flow tests right now.”

Featured image: Gov.uk