How the coronavirus crisis has impacted on Prison Pharmacists

In the latest in our string of ‘coronavirus and its impact’ series of interviews, we caught up with PDA Union South East Regional Committee Member, Andrew Jukes, who has been working as a locum in a prison in Lewes, East Sussex since December 2019 - before the coronavirus crisis began.

Thu 23rd July 2020 The PDA

Here, Andrew shares his experience of working as a Prison Pharmacists during the pandemic.

To work in a prison and then secure keys to move around the prison, there is an extensive vetting and verification procedure to clear security. However, initially, you would have to be escorted by a cleared colleague. Once you have been fully security cleared, it lasts for five years and enables you to work in other prisons more widely.

The key challenge is ensuring adherence with protection guidelines such as wearing masks, handwashing and taking extra precautions to alert the prison if you have symptoms to prevent the introduction of the virus into the wider prison.

We have had to work carefully in accordance with government and local procedures to manage risk. The highest degree of risk is an outbreak that may come in from outside and spread amongst the prisoner population, as there are not just the acute health risks but security risks in moving prisoners to hospitals for treatment.

The actual workload for us in prison has not significantly increased during the crisis, as we are not public-facing like community pharmacists. We are also fortunate that none of the team has been off sick due to the pandemic.

“I don’t think the wider sector has a sufficient level of knowledge about prison pharmacy so its often a forgotten sector or one that is misperceived.”

As the PDA has grown and diversified it is offering to pharmacists, pre-reg’s and students, and with a growing membership, the PDA is seen a major influence and source of support in the profession.

I became involved with the PDA around 2004, and in those days, there was little in terms of supporting individual pharmacists and addressing problems that no one else would tackle. I have always been interested in risk management and supporting people to work safely and positively for patients. The PDA has continued over the years to expand this offering to a whole range of people including pre-reg’s and students. They are a very necessary influence and source of support for individuals and the wider profession.

 

Andrew Jukes, pictured outside the prison

 

For more information on the work of the PDA during the pandemic, visit the PDA’s dedicated coronavirus web page: www.the-pda.org/coronavirus

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