Parents report 'frightening' struggle to get antibiotics in Edinburgh

Parents have spoken about the ‘frightening’ struggle to get antibiotics for sick kids after being turned away empty-handed from many chemists in the capital.
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Parents in Edinburgh are reporting serious difficulties in getting antibiotics for their children, amid concerns over UK-wide shortages after rising strep A infections.

It comes as the The Scottish Government has issued a ‘supply alert notice’ for the antibiotics used to treat strep A, after a surge in cases and the deaths of at least 19 children throughout the UK.

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Now pharmacists have been warned the syrup versions of the antibiotics used to treat strep A in children are “temporarily in limited supply at certain wholesalers and pharmacies”.

Parents worried about antibiotics shortageParents worried about antibiotics shortage
Parents worried about antibiotics shortage

But parents in the Capital who’ve had to go to a string of chemists say they have been told by frustrated pharmacists that they are having widespread problems getting enough supplies.

Mum-of-two Lyndsey had a prescription for antibiotics for her one-year-old son who is sick with an ear infection. After several hours of phoning chemists around the city and some in Fife she was getting nowhere. While her husband went out and drove around chemists she called NHS 24 desperate for help.

Lyndsey said: "We both tried for hours and went to local chemists, all the big ones and even called over to Fife. But we were told we’d struggle, apparently there are shortages everywhere and has been for a while. We eventually got lucky. The Asda at the Jewel found one dose at the back of a cupboard. You always think of medicine as a basic necessity. So being turned away is really frightening. If there’s any delay in treatment even by a few days it can risk complications, so I dread to think what would have happened if we couldn't get some.”

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"You’d think that they would be prepared for the winter. Our immunity has taken a battering with covid. We're lucky we got something and my son is starting to get better now. But it made me think, what about families that didn’t have a car to drive around or credit in their phones to call around. It’s so scary when it’s your little one who is suffering.”

A Dad from Leith whose 21-month-old daughter became sick after several cases of both strep and scarlet fever at her nursery called and drove around chemists in the city for four hours. After making it to a chemist open until 9pm he was turned away empty handed. He had to wait and go back to the doctor the next day and get a prescription for a different drug.

He said: “It was so stressful. After a late GP appointment I drove about for hours and was told there was nothing. One chemist who was trying to be helpful was going to give me their last bottle but then a colleague came over and after they talked, she said sorry but they couldn’t help. I couldn’t even order it. It was so frustrating. Finally, one of the Boots was able to check elsewhere and told me there was some showing as available at the Gyle. It was a long night of driving about with a sick child and there was an element of panic for a while. She seems to be doing better but I don’t know what will happen if we need another dose. It could be the same worry and uncertainty all over again..

“We had to go back to the GP in the end and get a different prescription for something different. I felt helpless but it could have been so much worse if I hadn’t been able to drive around searching.”

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Chemists across Edinburgh and Fife have also expressed concerns about shortages. Farzana Haq posted on Twitter: “I see officials are beginning to admit there is an antibiotic supply issue. Even alternatives are running low.

“Community pharmacy has had unprecedented demand the last 10 days. Not only has script no’s been increasing, so has requests for 1:1 consultation, clinical services and increased demand for antibiotics. Locally we’ve been given alternatives for liquid antibiotics that were out of stock but then we’ve run out of Penicillin V tablets too. Unfortunately the supply has been erratic and at times deliveries have not turned up all.”

A spokesperson for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said: “There has been a surge in demand for supplies of antibiotics for the treatment of Group A Strep. Unfortunately, this means supply may be temporarily limited at certain wholesalers and pharmacies. Scottish Government advised on 14 December that supplies are available with manufacturers, and deliveries into wholesalers and pharmacies are being expedited. These are expected in the coming days.

"RPS Scotland understands how difficult and worrying the current situation is for patients, their families and pharmacy teams. Pharmacy teams are currently working extremely hard to source antibiotics for patients or to advise on alternative antibiotics. We ask the public to please be kind to our pharmacy teams as they work hard to resolve these issues at such a busy time.”

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