One of the assumptions McKesson UK made when planning for the impact of COVID-19 was that absence rates would be significant which would put a strain on the ability to get medicines to the patients that needed them.
As well as redeploying some head office colleagues to frontline roles, Schools of Pharmacy were approached to explore the opportunity for students to work in LloydsPharmacy.
Esther Matthews, head of Resourcing for McKesson UK, says: “The Schools of Pharmacy helped us engage with 3rd and 4th year pharmacy students, many of whom are now working in our pharmacies helping them provide vital medicines, advice and reassurance to their communities in difficult circumstances. We really appreciate their support. We absolutely support these students continuing with their undergraduate learning and are encouraging them to remain focused on their studies whilst working with us.”
All students are working under the supervision of a pharmacist and they are on flexible contracts which gives them the ability to choose when they work. Some of the students are also working alongside current pre-reg students which is giving them valuable experience and further exposure to the next step in their career.
One of the third year pharmacy students who took up the call from LloydsPharmacy to help during the COVID-19 pandemic is Joe Costello-Dunn who is currently working across two pharmacies in Hertfordshire – Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.
Joe started work on the frontline as an NHS key worker at the end of March, following the temporary closure of the University of Birmingham Pharmacy School.
“University has provided me with the clinical knowledge needed, but frontline experience is enabling me to implement this in a real time of need,” says 20-year-old Joe.
“I always wanted to become a clinical pharmacist and this current crisis is cementing my objective of becoming involved in public health. It’s not entirely a normal environment, wearing masks and gloves is something new to us all.
“What has been wonderful is how the team are continuing to deliver excellent healthcare, even at this very difficult time. The team have been great; they really are delivering the best service possible.
“I‘m glad that I’ve been able to put my knowledge into practise, especially during the pandemic. It’s certainly highlighted the need for accessible advice within each community – illustrating the vital need for local pharmacists and pharmacy teams.
“The skills and knowledge gained from helping in community pharmacy during this crisis will really help me next year, when I’m in my fourth year of university and when I hopefully qualify as a pharmacist in 2022. The experience, I suspect, will live with me a lot longer.”