The Beast from the East - That Was the Week That Was

Amanda Rae

Monday, March 12, 2018

Talk of it started on the weekend of the 24th Feb when a weatherman named the “The Beast from the East”, a polar vortex which would bring freezing temperatures and snowstorms to Europe. This was followed on Facebook and the like of pictures of snow covered Rome and Naples – a most unusual sight.

In Scotland, we talked about it – because we like to talk about the weather – but otherwise got on with our weekends. It takes more than a threat of a wee bit of a polar vortex to trouble us.

By Tuesday there was snow and both public transport and traffic were showing signs of the impact. All over Scotland, people were putting on their jerseys and big coats.

Wednesday morning saw more snow and travel disruption, and the first ever “Red Weather Warning” was issued. (One young colleague asked me “What did you do the last time there was a Red Weather Warning?” The answer? Nothing, because the last time we had really heavy snow, it hadn’t been invented – it came into being in the wash up after that event way back in the late 2000s).

As much of the world dashed for home, Community Pharmacy, once again, came into its own. There are tales of bravery, care and sheer hard work too many to mention, so here are just a few-

Walk 500 miles! That was nothing in community pharmacy last week where teams made deliveries on foot – with staff also delivering essential groceries to the elderly patients that couldn’t get out. Pharmacists booked in to hotels, B&B, stayed with friends and one was even put up in the local care home, all to make sure they were nearby to be able to open their pharmacies every day.

One Pharmacy managed to get all deliveries out with the help of a local tree surgeon who drove the usual deliver driver in his 4x4. Two pharmacists arrived in remote locations by tractor to ensure that they could open their pharmacies. Another pharmacist called in support from her farmer relatives and made deliveries to care homes by tractor.

Management teams worked organising behind the scenes, taking calls at all hours morning and night, moving staff around to make their journeys easier and make sure they could get to a pharmacy, booking hotels so staff were safe rather than making treacherous journeys home, going out in company 4x4s to pick up staff to get them to work and then spending all day helping with deliveries too. One manager even managed to blag friends/relatives into using their 4x4s to get stranded staff to pharmacies and assist with deliveries.

The pharmacist due to cover one Fife pharmacy on Saturday was stranded in London. Another pharmacist cancelled her planned day off to go shopping for her engagement ring to work in the pharmacy and make sure it was open to care for their patients.

….and the little things weren’t forgotten……One pharmacist told us that she delivered a dosette to an elderly patient after work, ended up getting a guided tour of their flat, and a wee chat. The patient hadn't seen anyone for a few days and appreciate not only receiving their medicine, but also the chance for some company and a blether!

Pharmacists also made the most of the CPUS. This service once again proved to be extremely useful to make appropriate supplies by pharmacists to ensure patients received the medication they needed for chronic conditions. One pharmacy made 100 of these supplies on Thursday alone. Great to be in Scotland and have this service in place …and also to have great teams there to deliver it.

…and the praise from our patients was effusive 

So what now?

Well, the world is returning to normal and having shared tales of scary journeys, clearing snow and the dreadful lack of supplies in the supermarkets, normal service is returning for all. (btw, what is it with this country and bread & milk? As soon as there is none, it is like a “Red Food Warning” of its own.)

Community Pharmacies continue to dispense prescriptions, deliver services and provide great care.

In closing, a big well done and thanks to all.

We are all proud of what our profession has delivers, in good and bad weather. The above shows just how dedicated our “Unsung Heroes” are in looking after our patients.

Put your feet up and relax – you have all earned it!