PHARMACISTS in Bolton have urged the public to only buy medicines they need to avoid creating difficulties in the future following stockpiling in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Local chemists say they are “working round the clock” to ensure prescriptions are dispensed ­— but add they need the public to play their part in ensuring the operation continues to run smoothly.

Chairman of Bolton Local Pharmaceutical Committee Asif Adam said: “Community pharmacy teams are a really important part of the NHS, and like all other NHS workers they are under immense pressure at the moment.

“We are today asking patients and members to the public to take some very simple steps to help protect these teams so that pharmacies can continue to carry out their critical roles and ensure that everyone continues to get the medicines, help and support they need, when they need it.”

Those showing symptoms associated with the coronavirus ­— a dry persistent cough, fever or shortness of breath ­— are being told to avoid pharmacies.

People showing such symptoms are urged to contact their pharmacists by phone, email or via its website.

Bolton Local Pharmaceutical Committee spokesman said: “All pharmacies are under immense pressure and working around the clock to ensure that you get what you need.

“Order medicines as normal.

“There is no need to stockpile medicines. Ordering extra prescriptions and buying more over the counter medicines than you need will contribute to disruption to the medicines supply chain, which is otherwise robust.”

Some pharmacies are having to reduce the hours during which they can admit members of the public to preparing medicines and restock shelves.

The chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council Duncan Rudkin said there had been increasing numbers of reports nationally that staff had been experiencing “abuse, disorder and even violence” from members of the public.

“Abuse of pharmacy staff is never acceptable,” he said in a statement, “Pharmacy is a key part of the national response and its workforce are entitled to be treated with the same respect as other key healthcare professionals.

“This is an especially challenging time for the pharmacy profession and we condemn any abuse.”

Mark Lyonette, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), which represents independent community pharmacy professionals, said providers were doing everything possible to maintain the supply of medicines.

Although there are currently sufficient medicines to meet demand in the UK, there has been an increase in demand for all types of product.

“In most cases, pharmacies are currently able to meet need in a timely fashion, even if that means limiting the quantity of certain medicines sold to each customer,” Mr Lyonette said,”Certain products, for example, hand sanitisers, paracetamol and thermometers, are only intermittently available.Please only buy the medicines you need now for you and your family; so that everyone in your community gets the medicines they need.”

Meanwhile, online pharmacies have had to limit orders or stop them altogether as they grapple with an “unprecedented” demand for their products.

The LloydsPharmacy website said they had temporarily paused online orders until March 30, as they deal with a high volume of demand for pharmacy products.

It asked customers to buy products only as and when needed to “ensure pharmacies can continue to provide care for everyone" over the coming months.