A GROUP representing pharmacies across Oxfordshire has urged customers to be patient, not to stockpile medication and stay away if they display symptoms of coronavirus.

A statement form the Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) for the Thames Valley said as the UK responds to the Covid-19 pandemic, community pharmacies in the county were 'working tirelessly' to ensure everyone’s medicines and healthcare needs are met over the coming days and weeks.

It said pharmacy teams were a 'critical' part of the NHS and in the past weeks they have seen demand for prescriptions, over- the-counter medicines, other products, advice and reassurance 'soar'.

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The LPC message continued: "Pharmacy teams are under intense pressure at the moment, working on the front line of the health service often without any protection for their own health."

It urged patients and other users to heed the following advice to help pharmacies to 'cope under the increasing pressure';

lAvoid pharmacies if you are showing symptoms of Covid-19.

lBe patient as all pharmacies are under 'immense pressure' and working around the clock.

lOrder medicines as normal, with 'no need' to stockpile medicines.

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It added pharmacies will remain open 'wherever possible' but some are now having to reduce the hours so medicines can be prepared and shelves restocked. medicines and restocking shelves so that these vital services can continue safely.

Most pharmacies can be contacted by phone and email, and many have their own websites and social media channels.

David Dean, chief officer of the Thames Valley LPC 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.”