The Prince of Wales has paid tribute to the “the dedication and professionalism” of pharmacy staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Charles, 73, hosted a reception for the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), attended by 200 people, at St James’ Palace in Westminster, London on Wednesday evening.
In his speech he praised the role of pharmacies in the community, which became even more vital during the pandemic.
He said: “The dedication and professionalism of pharmacy staff has been clear for everyone to see during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Over this unbelievably harrowing period you, ladies and gentlemen, kept vulnerable people supplied with their medicines, played a key part in the NHS vaccination programme.”
The prince also hailed the “diverse” pharmaceutical industry, which he said “may be an ancient profession, but it certainly reflects modern Britain in all its splendid diversity.”
He said: “Woven into the history of community pharmacy are thousands of individual stories about immigration into the United Kingdom and how people from overseas have built a life here.
“And now, in their turn, they’re not only providing pharmaceutical care to British communities, but also to those who have recently been displaced from other parts of the world, including the Middle East, Europe and Africa.”
He also highlighted the transformation in pharmacy over the last century, saying: “I have to say I was very pleased to help the National Pharmacy Association mark your centenary, so I know that your sector has experienced enormous changes: from the formation of the NHS in 1948, and I’m fully aware of how old it is because I was born then – though I think I’m in a worse state than the NHS! – to an overhaul of medicines’ regulations in 1968, a massive expansion in the range of medicines available to patients and the establishment of new roles in public health, urgent care and managing long-term conditions.
“You continue, ladies and gentlemen, to innovate and adapt to the evolving needs of patients and the NHS.”
Charles met many pharmacists from across the UK, and spoke with them about their experiences of the pandemic, as well as their work more generally in the community in normal times.
Shilpa Shah, chief executive of North East London LPC, an organisation which oversees 320 community pharmacies across north-east London, said the prince “was so friendly, so personable, really happy to talk to everybody.”
Ruchna Patel, a pharmacist based in Lewisham, south-east London, spoke with the prince about her experiences in the profession and her pharmaceutical training. She said that the appreciation for pharmacists was “long overdue, but very, very nice”.
The NPA is the leading UK-wide trade association for community pharmacy, acting as a voice for the sector as well as providing a range of services, such as education and training for staff.