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The timing could not be worse for Cromwell’s only pharmacy as the largest of three medical practices in the town has decided to push an Auckland-based delivery service for prescriptions.
In an email on Monday, obtained by the Otago Daily Times, Cromwell Medical Centre practice manager Christina Bickerstaff wrote the medical centre was "now prescribing via Zoom Pharmacy wherever possible".
"They offer a 48-hour free delivery to the patient’s door and doctors can send prescriptions electronically."
Cromwell Pharmacy proprietor pharmacist Jackie Hamilton said her local business had already shortened its hours and was running reduced staff hours during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown. Delivery was available from her pharmacy.
"The timing is terrible, because we’re all under a lot of pressure," she said.
"We’re working on the frontline and I’ve applied for the wage subsidy. We can’t let people into the store to buy products — the retail business is what props up the dispensary.
"We’ve done everything we can just basically to survive the period, however long it’s going to be. And I think we’ve adapted really well.
"It’s certainly distressing from a business owner’s point of view — it’s sad."
Cromwell Family Practice’s Dr Greg White said the issue would have been contentious without the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It’s massively compounded by the current crisis but even in normal times it would be a significant issue." he said.
"We’re almost a medium-size town now, so there’s a lot of pharmacy work to be done. We’re not like a small town that can just have the courier drop things off once a week. We need a pharmacist.
"We need to support the local businesses and that goes for everyone in the current climate."
Cromwell Medical Centre director Peter Waters said the decision to use the door-to-door delivery service was purely to allow those requiring medication to remain in isolation.
He said it was not a service he was aware Mrs Hamilton offered — and the medical centre’s primary concern was of the health of the community.
"The bulk of our prescriptions are going through the local pharmacist, but we are promoting the idea that if people don’t want to go out and they would rather stay at home, they can actually get their medicines delivered to their front door.
"I don’t know why anybody would have a problem with that."