Dear Rachel,

Hand-washing saves lives.  It reduces transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  But hand-washing hasn’t always been the norm for healthcare settings. In fact, finally introducing hand-washing was a major revolution in healthcare (one which was slow to be embraced).

In the 1840s, a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis started gathering data at maternity wards. He noticed a difference in the conditions between the ward staffed by doctors and the one staffed by midwives. That difference was that the doctors often performed autopsies in addition to their other medical duties, and didn’t wash up after working on a cadaver. Instead, they went from patient to patient, carrying germs with them. The midwives, meanwhile, didn’t perform any autopsies, and thus were less likely to come into contact with what Semmelweis called “cadaverous particles.”

Semmelweis recommended doctors wash their hands to prevent the spread of those “particles” throughout the ward. Years later, we know washing our hands does indeed reduce the transmission of viruses and bacteria. Sadly, Semmelweis’s ideas were not widely adopted in his lifetime. However, his recommendations are as critical today in reducing infection as they were in the 1840s.  

Now, 180 years later, washing our hands might seem old fashioned, but it’s a crucial skill most people still get wrong — or at least don’t quite get right.  Simply running some water over your fingers isn’t enough.  The HSE and WHO guidelines on hand-washing, outlines a process a bit more involved than just briefly touching fingers to water.

Soap and lather is obviously important, but so is duration.  The WHO notes you should scrub for at least 20 seconds, or about twice as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself. Remember to really rub. Get the tops of your hands (not just your palms and the undersides of your fingers).  Pay attention to your nails, and be sure to wash your wrists.  Dry your hands completely.  To prevent re-contaminating your hands, turn off the tap with your elbow or a tissue.  Use a tissue to open doors or touch door handles and dispose of the tissue into a closed bin ASAP. 

Role-model effective hand-washing to your patients, colleagues and family.  

To ensure every person working in community pharmacy is equipped with the information required to protect patient safety, we have created an online 4-Part Coronavirus COVID-19 Certified Training to ensure that you and your team are trained to 

  • provide best practice information to patients,
  • empower effective action to help minimise the spread of Coronavirus in our communities
  • protect public health, (our own, our staff and our patients) through best practice advice and behaviour

4FrontPharmacy's 4-Part Coronavirus COVID-19 Certified Training comprises 4 x 15 min audio visual lessons

1. What Causes Infections?

2. Managing Infections

3. Coronavirus COVID-19

4. Protecting staff and patients from infection in community pharmacy 

In the words of Brene Brown, this global pandemic is a real case of 'getting sick together' or 'staying well together.'  Our choices affect everyone around us.  

At 4FrontPharmacy our choice is to make our online Coronavirus COVID-19 Certified Training Programme available to all pharmacy staff, FREE OF CHARGE, with IMMEDIATE effect.  All you need to access this training is to 'Sign Up' on  You can login from any device with a microphone and internet connection.

Our goal is that EVERY member of the pharmacy team has received our Certified Coronavirus COVID-19 Training within the next 7 days.  

Please share this invitation ( with everyone you know who works in pharmacy.

Keep safe and well


Rachel Dungan
4Front Pharmacy Solutions Ltd