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NPA update on fuel shortages Friday 1 October

01 Oct 2021

Our latest view of the fuel situation, in light of calls from NPA members and our talks with medicines wholesalers and the Department of Health and Social care, is as follows:


  • The picture is variable depending on where you are in the country. Currently there seem to be particular problems in parts of North London, amongst other places.


  • While deliveries to some pharmacies have been interrupted, this has not generally impacted on patients’ access to treatment up to this point.


  • A resilient medicines supply chain is obviously vital to the health of the nation, so it’s important this isn’t allowed to escalate into a widespread problem that impacts patient care. At this moment, we are not seeing signs of escalation.


  • Whenever supply problems have occurred, pharmacists have worked together, with each other and local GPs to get people the medicines they need, when and where they need them.


  • The NPA has spoken directly to the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) about the current situation with access to fuel at petrol forecourts. In our correspondence we asked the PRA to recognise community pharmacists and their teams as a critical part of the health care workforce.  We have pointed out that:


  • as well as  supplying essential medicines, pharmacies now also provide a range of critical NHS services such as vaccinations for COVID and ‘flu.


  • in addition to needing fuel to get to their places of work and maintain the supply of medicines to NHS patients, pharmacy staff also use vehicles to deliver vital medicines to housebound patients.


  • We have created a template letter [LINK] for pharmacy staff to show forecourt managers, in the event of a lack of fuel supply locally that could impact patient care. We recommend that this is used only sparingly, and it does not in any way guarantee you will get priority access to fuel.