Cornwall pharmacist on 'patchy' penicillin supplies for Strep A patients

  • Watch Kathy Wardle's report

A pharmacist from Cornwall says supplies of penicillin used in the treatment of Step A infections are 'patchy' amid growing demand.

Superintendent Pharmacist Nick Kaye based at the Penryn Surgery says they've been affected by a national supply shortage for penicillin and amoxicillin.

Demand for the antibiotics prescribed to treat strep A cases has grown after a national spike in cases.

Mr Kaye said: ''Supply is intermittent, we've had some supplies in today.

"We haven't got some strengths of Amoxicillin in stock here, but we have got some. I think it's going to be a watching brief, and every part of the country and region will be different. In Cornwall we have what I can say at best is a patchy supply.''

Superintendent Pharmacist Nick Kaye Credit: ITV News

The government has issued Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) across the UK for 3 penicillin medicines commonly used against the infection.

This means pharmacists can legally supply a specified alternative medicine, removing the need for the patient to return to the prescriber – saving time in GP practices and inconvenience for patients.

There are various versions of penicillin including liquid, sugar-free liquid and tablet. Pharmacists can supply an alternative formulation if they do not have the one listed in stock.

Mr Kaye says people may need to use penicillin in tablet or capsule form for children if the liquid version isn't available.

He told ITV News West Country: ''Patients may be asked to do things slightly differently by their pharmacists. You may be asked to crush a tablet and give it to a young child, or open a capsule and give that powder to a child and that's all being done under NHS guidance.''

Minister of State for Health Will Quince said: ''The increased demand for the antibiotics prescribed to treat strep A has meant some pharmacists have been unable to supply the medicine shown on the prescription."

These Serious Shortage Protocols will allow pharmacists to supply an alternative form of penicillin, which will make things easier for them, patients, and GPs.

"We are taking decisive action to address these temporary issues and improve access to these medicines by continuing to work with manufacturers and wholesalers to speed up deliveries, bring forward stock they have to help ensure it gets to where it’s needed, and boost supply to meet demand as quickly as possible.''

Latest data from the UK Health Security Agency continues to show an out of season increase in Scarlet Fever and group A streptococcus infections, and a higher number of cases than seen in a typical year.

Advice and guidance for parents worried about Strep A can be found here.