Community pharmacies are playing a key role in combating the coronavirus epidemic, North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara has said.

From left to right: Rita Bali, Shailesh Vara MP and Tushar Patel outside the Somersham surgery.From left to right: Rita Bali, Shailesh Vara MP and Tushar Patel outside the Somersham surgery.

He visited the J W Anderson Pharmacy in Somersham to see the “lifeline” services they are offering to support the local community during the crisis - and also had a flu jab while he was there.

Mr Vara met owner and pharmacist Tushar Patel along with Rita Bali of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) to discuss the role of community pharmacies, including providing the flu jab.

Mr Vara said he fully supported the flu jab programme at a time when the traditional winter flu was likely to add to the coronaviris problem.

“Winter is always a difficult time of year for health services and this year will be especially difficult,” he said.

“Community pharmacies such as J W Anderson in Somersham have been a wonderful support to our local communities throughout the outbreak and we are very grateful for the support they have given to many during this time.”

He added: “It is reassuring to know that these vital services will remain available for patients as we head into the winter months and I would encourage anyone who is eligible for the flu vaccination to go and get it done.”

Rita Bali, executive officer at the LPC, said: “It was great to meet Shailesh today and talk to him about the brilliant work that our community pharmacies carry out on a day-to-day basis and to see him directly benefit from one of the many services they offer, the flu jab.

“Community pharmacies have remained open throughout the lockdown period providing a vital face-to-face healthcare service and reassurance to local people.”

Tushar Patel said: “We were very pleased to welcome Shailesh into our pharmacy and give him his flu vaccination for this winter.

“We welcomed the opportunity to talk to him about our experiences of working during the difficult pandemic period and how we and other local community pharmacists have adapted in order to ensure our patients are still able to access their medicines and healthcare advice.

“Community pharmacies are highly valued by our communities and we have the clinical experience and knowledge to deliver a wide variety of additional NHS services.”