Well’s decision to drop Covid isolation rules attracts political scrutiny
Well Pharmacy’s decision to axe Covid isolation guidelines for staff goes against the Scottish Government’s expectations for healthcare providers, MSPs have indicated.
The multiple’s decision to allow Covid-positive staff to come to work in its stores as of April was scrutinised in Holyrood this week after Labour MSP for Dunbarton and shadow cabinet health secretary Jackie Baillie asked the Government to confirm “what its position is on the actions of Well Pharmacy”.
Community pharmacy staff are “in patient-facing roles and dealing with clinically vulnerable people,” Ms Baillie noted as she raised concerns about the company’s pivot to “the new normal”.
While Well has stressed that staff with Covid will not be required to work, concerns have been raised that they may now feel under greater pressure to do so.
In response, cabinet health secretary Humza Yousaf of the ruling Scottish National Party said yesterday: “We expect health and social care employers, including community pharmacies, to follow the guidance on managing staff with symptoms of a respiratory infection, or a positive Covid-19 test.
“This specifies that if staff test positive for Covid-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms, they should not attend work for a minimum of five full days.
“If they work with patients or service users in face-to-face settings, they can return to work if they have had two consecutive negative LFD test results (taken at least 24 hours apart).”
Jackie Baillie told Pharmacy Network News: “This is a dangerous decision from Well Pharmacy that places staff and customers in a terrible position.
“It is often vulnerable people and those who are ill that visit their local pharmacy and allowing this will put them in danger.
“Guidance is clear. Well pharmacy must reconsider this decision immediately.”
Mr Yousaf’s comments came shortly after the Royal Pharmaceutical Society urged pharmacies not to allow Covid-positive staff to come to work, citing their “professional responsibility to follow infection control procedures to protect patients”.
Pharmacists’ Defence Association director Paul Day told Pharmacy Network News that the response from the Scottish Government shows that Well “urgently need to change their policy”.
“Responsible pharmacists cannot be the only line of defence for patients; pharmacy owners need to be responsible,” he added.
Well has been approached for comment.