Health secretary on impact of ambulance strikes amid pay dispute
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Steve Barclay today insisted there is no shortage of antibiotics to treat Strep A. The Health Secretary’s comments come as at least nine children across the UK have died from complications caused by the infection.
Mr Barclay said checks within the Department of Health had not revealed an issue with supply of the medicines after the National Pharmacy Association said there were “blips” in the supply chain of liquid penicillin, which is often given to children.
He added that stock could be moved around if there was an issue with particular GPs getting supplies.
Mr Barclay told Sky News: “I checked with the team last night – we have an established team in the department that does this on a permanent basis – and they reassured me we have good supply.
“The medical suppliers are required to notify us if they’ve got shortages.
“Now, sometimes, GPs can have particular surges if they’ve got a lot of demand in an area, and that’s quite routine, we can move the stock around our depots.
“As of last night when we checked (with suppliers), they said they could reassure us that they’ve got good stock and were moving that around to meet demand.
“Obviously parents are concerned at the moment because they see the stories.
“One in five children have this – Strep A – naturally, complications are very rare, but it’s important that we’re vigilant.”
Speaking to GB News, Mr Barclay added: “We’re in very close contact with our medical suppliers.
“They’re under a duty to notify us if there are supply shortages. They have not done so as yet.”
It comes after a senior pharmacist yesterday warned there are “no drugs”.
Pharmacy director Zeshan Rehmani criticised proposals to give antibiotics to children in schools to help fend off illnesses including Strep A.
He said: “There’s no drugs. Today, we haven’t been able to get any penicillin in stock at all.”
The National Pharmacy Association confirmed there had been a spike in demand for some antibiotics, including those used to treat Strep A in children.
It said in a statement: “Pharmacies are having to work very hard to obtain stocks of these antibiotics, and some lines are temporarily unavailable.
“We have been advised by wholesalers that most lines will be replenished soon, but we cannot say exactly when that will be.
“As always, pharmacists will continue to work with local GPs to help people get the medicines they need as promptly as possible, which may require a change of prescription.”
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