People are being urged not to stockpile medicines and not to visit pharmacies if they have symptoms of infection as pressure on the sector increases amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), which represents the owners of Scotland’s network of around 1,250 community pharmacies, said its members are facing a “tidal wave of demand” due to the outbreak.
It said people should only buy the medicines and supplies that they need, and that if they have symptoms of infection they should ask someone else to collect essential medicines wherever possible.
CPS also said that the way pharmacies operate may have to change, with measures such as restricted access and social distancing possible.
It has written to MSPs asking for their help to get the message across to their constituents.
Matt Barclay, of CPS, said: “Covid-19 has brought unprecedented pressure on the pharmacy network at this time to continue to supply life-saving medicines to population of Scotland.
“As more and more GP surgeries close their doors and move to virtual consultations only, people are understandably turning to community pharmacy for support.
“Our teams are committed to helping their communities, but we need some help to protect them and maintain the supply of medicines, services and advice for those who really need it.
“So far the response from the network has been inspiring as pharmacies deal with greater volumes of requests from the public who are concerned about themselves, friends and family.
“This is a worrying time. There is an overwhelming amount of information – and equal parts misinformation – out there and pharmacy teams are providing advice and supplying medicines, keeping people well as close to home as possible and away from other healthcare settings like hospitals.”
Mr Barclay said that to keep pharmacies open and providing essential services for as long as possible, pharmacy owners and teams might have to operate a little differently.
He added: “Physical access to pharmacies may be restricted, methods to ensure appropriate social distancing may be put in place and delivery services will undergo some changes as well as demand from those self-isolating increases.”