Driver shortage: Now pharmacies complain medicine deliveries are being delayed

25 September 2021, 17:07 | Updated: 26 September 2021, 00:16

Pharmacies have warned of delays to medicine deliveries
Pharmacies have warned of delays to medicine deliveries. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Pharmacies are facing shortages of medicine deliveries due to the shortage of supply chain drivers – as the UK already grapples with widespread fuel disruptions.

A national industry body insisted stores would work together to stop patients getting delayed access to their medicines.

But pharmacists have revealed their frustration that deliveries are being disrupted.

A lack of HGV drivers to transport fuel has seen motorists take to using jerry cans to stock up.

Hundreds of gridlocked petrol stations have imposed a £30 spending limit on the pumps as they look to ration their supplies.

Motorists have been begged to avoid panic buying while Tory minister James Cleverly insisted there is no shortage of fuel itself.

As calls grow for the Government to get more drivers into lorry cabs, a shortage of van drivers has led to patients facing delays for their over the counter drugs.

Read more: Drivers pack cars with jerry cans and £30 cap introduced as panic-buyers scramble for fuel

Read more: Govt looking at temporary visas for lorry drivers as panic-buyers gridlock petrol stations

The Telegraph reports that multiple pharmacies say their orders are turning up late or not even arriving.

The paper said at least one big supplier of medicine stopped deliveries for a week due to logistics issues.

Martin Hewitson, a former board member of the National Pharmacy Association who runs a pharmacy in Dorset, said disruption was happening up to three times a week and added: "Medicines which we were expecting end up not arriving, often with no explanation."

Dimple Bhatia, who runs a pharmacy in east Essex, said: "We don't know if we're getting stock or not. We've got urgent medicines to give to patients so we reorder it and then we get two lots in, with one turning up three days late."

A spokesperson for the National Pharmacy Association told The Telegraph it was aware of a reduction in deliveries but did not think it is "generally" affecting access to medicines.

"Whenever supply problems occur, pharmacists work together, with each other and local GPs, to get people the medicines they need, when and where they need them," they added.

The shortage of HGV drivers has been attributed to the departure of overseas workers during the pandemic.

The Unite union blamed the freelancing landscape of van driving and poor work conditions for the shortage of drivers, with many opting to leave the industry.