An innovative new service, connecting running and cycling clubs with local pharmacies, is helping to deliver muchp-needed medication to self-isolating residents across north Oxfordshire.

Following the government’s advice that people with underlying health conditions should stay at home to protect themselves from coronavirus, chemists in Banbury and Bicester have seen a growing demand for their courier services to transport medication directly to patients’ doors.

To alleviate that pressure, Cherwell District Council has collaborated with local athletes to set up Oxfordshire Supply Runs.

ALSO READ: Ahmey's Pharmacy in Bicester praised by town

Groups include Banbury Harriers Athletics Club, Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club and Alchester Running Club where members will be the new go-between for pharmacies and patients.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “This excellent service has been set up in double-quick time to respond to one of the most challenging situations of our generation.

“Pharmacies are under extreme pressure to deliver essential medication to some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

"Asking local athletes to courier medicines during their daily exercise not only eases those demands, but also reduces the number of essential journeys people take to pick up their prescriptions.”

Paul Dean, president of Banbury Star Cyclists’ Club, says being involved with the initiative is a 'win-win' for members of the club.

He said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is incredibly concerning but I have no doubt we can beat it. For us, being involved in Oxfordshire Supply Runs is a win-win.

"Not only does it give us a way to support our community by delivering essential medication, it also allows us to do it on our bikes, doing something we love.”

The scheme has been approved by the Thames Valley and North Oxfordshire Pharmaceuticals Committee and shared to other district councils in Oxfordshire to enable them to set up a similar project.

ALSO READ: Didcot postmen walk out on strike due to coronavirus safety worries

Deliveries have already begun in Banbury, with the first run due to take place in Bicester in the coming days.

Banbury Star Cyclists Club's afternoon delivery team took delivered prescriptions from the pharmacy by Banbury Cross out to the community in the town

Mr Dean added: "We are very pleased to be working with our friends at Banbury Harriers Athletic Club and Cherwell District Council to be able to bring the Oxfordshire Supply Run service together so quickly and help members of the community, some of whom are at higher risk of contracting the virus and are self-isolating or are unable to travel to pick up their prescriptions."

Ahmeys Pharmacy in Bicester was recently praised for its customer service after its dispensing pharmacist, Faheem Ahmed, drove back to the shop to help a customer who was desperately in need of medication even though he had finished his shift.