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Pharmacy staff plead for patience as demand for RATs explodes


Frontline Queensland pharmacy staff are fielding hundreds of calls each day from desperate patients seeking rapid antigen tests.

There has been a spike in demand across regional Queensland pharmacies with rapid antigen tests, vaccines for booster shots and vaccines for paediatric age groups placing a strain on already tired staff.

Chris Owen, Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland branch president, says staff across Queensland are doing the best they can.

“We’ve had multiple staff shortages and some pharmacies have had to shut down,” he says.

“We try to do the best we can for our patients and service the needs of the community.

“Staff is one of the resources that is very tight at the moment.”

Worker shortages are being felt across various sectors and forced many businesses to close or amend operating hours, with pharmacies not immune.

On Sunday, the Queensland government changes to self isolation rules so close contacts of people with Covid-19 will be allowed out of isolation to work if they are an essential worker, including pharmaceutical staff, in response to staff shortages.

Mr Owen welcomes the decision and says it has eased the burden slightly ahead of what is forecast to be the peak of COVID-19 cases in a few weeks time.

Mr Owen is asking people to refrain from calling pharmacies about the availability of RATs.

“Try use digital channels such as Facebook pages to check supply,” he says.

“Hopefully this can reduce the amount of calls, like I said, we are getting 200-300 a day.”


Image: Harrison Priebe