Drug shortages 'beyond critical' amid persisting pharmacy supply issues

99% of pharmacists say they are suffering supply issues at least weekly. Credit: PA

As the drug supply "crisis" in England continues, patients are being forced to ration their medication, with pharmacy shortages now a daily occurrence.

A new survey reveals that patients are having to play "pharmacy bingo" - travelling from shop to shop to find stock - amid worsening medicine shortages.

Treatments for ADHD, diabetes, and epilepsy are among those worse affected, according to trade body Community Pharmacy England.

"The medicine supply challenges being faced by community pharmacies and their patients are beyond critical," the body's chief executive, Janet Morrison, said.

"We've been warning for some time that these issues must be resolved, and this evidence provides yet another stark warning which must not be ignored."

The study of more than 6,000 patients and 2,000 staff found shortages are "wreaking havoc" on patients.

Almost all (97%) of pharmacy staff members said their patients are inconvenienced by supply issues, while 79% said patient health was at risk.

Researchers warned that alongside stress and inconvenience, lack of access to medication can lead to serious health consequences, even leaving patients needing to visit A&E.

William Pett, Head of Policy at Healthwatch England, said medicine supply is an "ongoing issue" that "continues to wreak havoc on patients".

He said Healthwatch is calling for a review of the medicine supply chain, and for pharmacists to "be given flexibility to make changes to medicines they dispense in collaboration with patients".

The National Pharmacy Association also called for the government to fix the UK's "fragile" supply system.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Supply issues can arise for a wide range of reasons and are not specific to the UK.

"Our priority is to mitigate risks posed by those issues and to help ensure that patients continue to get the treatments they need.

"Thankfully, most issues can be managed with minimal impact to patients."

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