SUPER Scout volunteers have delivered more 4,500 prescriptions to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now the pink prescription porters are aiming to hit the 5,000 mark by the end of the week.

Scout leaders started helping Windrush Medical Practice in Witney during the early stages of the crisis, but were soon working with all pharmacies in the town.

They now have 65 volunteers on hand to help with collection, delivery and the administration work.

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The whole scheme started because of Sarah Townsend, a dispensary manager at the Welch Way practice.

She explained: “One of the GPs approached me saying they could see a big problem with huge queues waiting for prescriptions outside the practice, and often the elderly would be out there for two hours."

Luckily Mrs Townsend, 45, also happens to be the deputy district commissioner for the Scouts in West Oxfordshire.

“I knew that the Scouts were a huge body of people who we could harness as a volunteer group,” she added.

“We’ve now got teams of people doing the admin side, taking requests over the phone or via email, and teams visiting the pharmacies collecting the prescriptions ready made by us.

“The prescriptions are taken to a separate hub and then there’s five separate delivery rounds, split between Witney and the other villages in the area.

“From the scout point of view, we’d want to carry this on for as long as needed.”

Oxford Mail:

Jonathan Greer has been instrumental in coordinating the efforts.

Mr Greer, 44, is the Scout leader for North Leigh.

He said: “At the start of all this, they could see there was going to be a risk with people collecting their prescriptions.

“Sarah got in touch with me to set something up - the next day I got together some of the leaders and very quickly it got very busy.

“We dress in pink as we wanted to stand out from everyone else in the queues, and the pharmacies started to associate the pink with us and we could go in and collect the lists from the pharmacies and deliver the prescriptions.

“Getting the pharmacies on side early was so important, and building that relationship and trust.

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“It started off with delivering to the shielded and the vulnerable but now it’s anyone who gets in touch.

“It’s had to change and develop over time, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Some of the messages we’re getting show how much this means to people.

“There’s 65 volunteers now in total but we’re not all from scouting, there’s some from the Witney Land Army too.

“Although we’re Scouts, we’re not doing this under the scouting banner.”

Oxford Mail:

Mr Greer said that the total number of deliveries will hit 5,000 by the end of the week as the team is averaging 700 deliveries on a weekly basis.

Dr Stephen Smith, a GP and senior partner at Windrush Medical Practice, said: “What’s being done is part of a bigger picture in terms of how the public has responded to this crisis.

“In the early stages, we had quite a lot of concern from residents regarding their medication.

“When Covid-19 first hit, we had a lot of meetings to see who could draw on for practical help.

“Once we came up with who could deliver these goods, off it went.

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“It has been incredibly successful in what it has achieved in such a short space of time.

“It’s a great team effort – these people have been furloughed from their jobs and it’s giving them a sense of purpose.

“It’s great for the patients and their peace of mind, and from a medical point of view it’s been great to get the medication out there that can help with things like asthma and heart conditions.

“The Scouts might not realise the importance of their work, so we want them to know that what they’re doing is potentially life-saving.”

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Dr Smith, who joined the practice in 1996, also highlighted the other help that his surgery has received.

“We’ve had lots of offers of help from people for all sorts of things,” he said.

“For example, we’ve had several organisations and individuals who have helped with the supply of surgical scrubs.

“Schools have made us face shields which are really useful as an extra layer of protection and we’ve had a company provide us with a massive amount of alcohol gel.”