Pharmacists in West London have been working to help people affected by the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy

UK pharmacy magazine Chemist + Druggist spoke to Rekha Shah, CEO at Pharmacy London, a representative body of London Local Pharmaceutical Committees, who said that NHS England had identified 20 pharmacies within a 1km radius of the two respite centres set up in the area.

Both centres were given the contact details of these local pharmacies, which were asked not to charge patients when filling scripts as they would be unlikely to have any money.

Surviving residents of the Grenfell Tower have been made homeless by the disaster and most have lost everything they owned.

The pharmacies were told that when they received a script from the respite centres, they should endorse the back as “charges collected” and write “Latimer”.

“It is important that these patients still have access to prescribed medication,” Ms Shah told C+D.

She said NHS England (London) would send claim forms to reimburse these waived charges, within around two months.

Chandni Vishrolia, a pharmacist at the nearby Chana Chemist, told C+D that the pharmacy had many patients living in the Grenfell Tower.

“We had a family come in first thing in the morning as they had left everything inside and we had to do an emergency supply of medication. We arranged for that immediately,” Ms Vishrolia said.

She also said a doctor at the respite centre had called her about a patient who had lost her medication in the fire.

“I couldn’t find the lady [at the respite centre], who needed medication. I’m going to try and ring her again today,” Ms Vishrolio said.

She said that “a lot” of people have been to the pharmacy to buy goods to donate to victims, and that the pharmacy has also donated products.

And Ali Murtada, a pre-registration pharmacist at the Faro Pharmacy, went to the Walmar Road respite centre to do what he could to help.

“There was a volunteer doctor and volunteer nurse and we said: ‘what can we do to make sure everyone gets their medication?’ I made them a template, so whenever someone comes in they could collect their details,” Mr Murtada told C+D.

“We compiled five A4 sheets of patient details and we passed that to the doctors from the local surgeries so they could write prescriptions and we could take it to the pharmacy,” he said.

“We are sending supplies to where they’re needed.”

Pharmacists in the UK expressed their support for colleagues and emergency services.

Pharmacists also geared up to provide added help to the general public.

London Ambulance’s Paul Woodrow asked the public to “think carefully” before calling emergency services or going to accident or emergency departments while these services were busy trying to help fire victims.

He encouraged them to use the NHS 111 non-emergency number, or go to their GP or pharmacy for less urgent health needs instead.

University College London’s School of Pharmacy also encouraged locals to donate to the Grenfell Tower appeal.

“Once again community pharmacy teams are ever-ready to support those members of the public who are affected in these sorts of circumstances,” Ms Shah told C+D.

“The public recognise and credit them for standing side by side with other frontline services to do their bit for the communities they serve.

“It would be nice if the powers that be in government also did.” 

Pharmacists who are distressed can call Pharmacists’ Support Service on 1300 244 910.