‘We feel at risk’ – A pharmacist from Boots in York claims staff have been told to bring their own gloves

A queue outside the Coney Street branch of Boots in York this week. Photograph: YorkMix

Staff at a York branch of Boots have said they are concerned over a lack of protection as they continue to serve customers during the coronavirus crisis.

A York employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I’m getting increasingly concerned with the lack of personal protective equipment.

“We’ve had no real communication from head office (all of whom we assume are able to self isolate and work from home) and the only thing we’ve been sent is a singular Perspex screen, and it’s tiny, it barely covers one till point at the walk-in dispensary.

“Myself and my colleagues feel that we’re increasingly at risk as we don’t have the space to stand two metres apart when we’re working in the dispensary, and we know that other pharmacies have supplied their staff with gloves, aprons and masks.”

The employee said they had been told to bring their own gloves.

‘Supermarkets do more’

Boots on Kings Square, York. Photograph: YorkMix

Another member of staff said they were “deeply concerned” for their safety and that it is difficult to follow social distancing advice – to remain two metres apart – in narrow shop aisles.

They said:

  • Even the supermarkets seem to be doing a great deal more to protect their staff.

    Boots are a very rich company and have provided neither equipment nor encouragement.

They said they were worried about a lack of protective equipment.

In response, Boots has now said it will begin issuing 40,000 face visors to protect staff from the coronavirus.

A spokesperson for Britain’s biggest pharmacist said protective equipment is being provided – with thousands of face visors due to be handed out next week – and that the stores have been named as “essential retailers” by Government.

They said the safety of employees, customers and suppliers is their priority.

40K face visors coming

The full personal protective equipment (PPE) being modelled by an employee of the Royal Mint which is now making them. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Every store has been given one Perspex screen for the pharmacy counter and 20,000 more lightweight screens have been ordered, the spokesperson said.

And that gloves, face masks and aprons have been supplied, with 40,000 face visors expected to be handed out to staff next week.

They said customers are being asked to bring their own pens to sign prescriptions.

They added that floor stickers and barriers have been installed, to encourage social distancing. And that surfaces are regularly cleaned throughout the day.

Tracey Clements, chief operating officer of Boots, said: “Our pharmacists and colleagues are frontline workers and it is our duty to protect their health as they work to support our customers, patients and the NHS.

“We are proud of their dedication.”