Scottish pharmacists face verbal abuse and fights outside stores

The backbone of medicine supplies in the NHS, Scottish pharmacists are reporting an increase in abusive and aggressive behaviour.

Friday, 10th April 2020, 1:28 pm
These customers are respecting each other and the new social distancing rules but some pharmacists have been verbally abused and witnessed fights outside their premises. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

The community network is critically important in dispensing prescriptions and advice on medicines year-round, but arguably never more so than during the coronavirus pandemic.

So it’s incredible to think these frontline workers are being abused by members of the public in communities across the country.

Jonathan Burton, chairman of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scotland, works as a pharmacist in Stirling.

He said: “I have been shocked to hear of pharmacy teams being verbally abused.

“I have also heard of fights starting outside pharmacy premises. This is totally unacceptable behaviour.

“Community pharmacists and their teams are doing everything they possibly can to help in very difficult circumstances. They are under significant pressure and they need the help of the public so they can continue to provide vital healthcare support.

“I ask that anyone who needs to visit a pharmacy remains patient and is respectful to all pharmacy staff.”

In response to the reports, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has taken its concerns to the police to help make sure pharmacy teams across the NHS are protected against any forms of aggressive, violent and abusive behaviour.

Some community pharmacies are currently changing the way they work to protect the public and their teams against the coronavirus.

RPS Scotland is encouraging the public to become familiar with arrangements including the opening times of pharmacies and the importance of social distancing.

Pharmacy workloads have almost doubled during March – with increased prescriptions, staff overtime and a higher level of consultations all resulting in additional costs for the service.

However, additional funding of £5.5 million is now being provided to community pharmacies to help them cope with increased pressures as a result of the coronavirus.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Working with Community Pharmacy Scotland we have agreed this initial package of additional funding for community pharmacies to help them meet some of the costs of responding to COVID-19 and to allow them to continue to meet the increased demand on their crucial services.

“I also want to thank all community pharmacy teams for their incredible hard work throughout this pandemic.”