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Community pharmacists speak out against rise in abuse and attacks

Pharmacists say physical and verbal abuse against them has become unacceptably common and many now feel unsafe when at work.

Police forces say they are being called out to handle pharmacy-based crimes.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) says there have been reports of a stabbing and physical attacks in pharmacies around the UK and that more needs to be done to enforce the NHS's zero tolerance policy on worker abuse..

Pharmacist Conor McAreavey was stabbed in the hand with a knife at his pharmacy in Belfast in March. He told the BBC he was "very lucky" not to have suffered tendon damage.

Glasgow pharmacist Chand Kausar was threatened with a knife by an agitated patient, who - after demanding non-prescribed medication - produced a six-inch knife and cornered her against a wall.

"I just froze," explains Ms Kausar. "My hands were above my head and I could hear all the noise around me, but I actually felt very calm. In my head all was quiet. I remember thinking it was like a movie scene. I'd never seen a knife like that, and I never imagined I'd have one held to my throat."

The PDA launched an online survey in April 2022 and nearly 550 community pharmacists, mostly staff working in England, have responded so far.

Some 468 of them - 85% - say they, or someone they work with, experienced verbal or racial abuse in the previous month while at work.

One respondent said: "I feel terrified going to work every single day, and yet management are ignoring the issue."

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Source: BBC News, 6 June 2022



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