Abuse or violence against pharmacy staff ‘completely unacceptable’

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council, said:

“The past 20-plus months have demonstrated the remarkable dedication and professionalism of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other members of the pharmacy team.

“We know that pharmacy teams are facing another very challenging winter, as they experience high demand from patients and the public and continue to play a central role in delivering vital NHS services, including vaccinations for COVID-19 and flu. It is widely acknowledged that all parts of the healthcare system are facing significant pressures, and pharmacy is no exception.

“The vast majority of patients and the public really appreciate the help and care they receive from pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other members of the team. But we have heard worrying reports of pharmacy professionals and pharmacy teams working in a range of settings experiencing abuse and even violence from members of the public.  We want to make clear that any abuse of pharmacy staff is completely unacceptable and robust action should be quickly taken in response to any incidents, including by law enforcement.

“We have been impressed by the steps many pharmacies have taken to maintain a safe environment for patients and staff at this challenging time. We would encourage pharmacy owners to consider whether there are any further steps they should take to reduce the risk of staff experiencing abuse or even violence.

“We would also urge the public to treat pharmacy staff with respect at all times, and to follow the requirements on wearing face masks, as well as any social distancing measures in place within a pharmacy.

“We are continuing to provide advice in response to issues raised with us, including advising that pharmacy staff should not be asked to work alone because of potential risks to their safety, as well as the safety of patients and the public. Our regulatory standards and guidance are there to help safeguard pharmacy staff, as well as patients and members of the public.” 

NHS England/Improvement- Primary Care Staff Respect Materials

NHS England/Improvement has developed materials and guidance that are available for use in primary care settings to encourage patients to treat NHS staff with respect. The materials feature NHS staff working in general practice across England and carry the message ‘We are here to help you. Thank you for treating us with respect’.

Scottish Government- Healthcare Worker Respect Toolkit

The Scottish Government has produced a toolkit to help reduce levels of violent and abusive behaviour being experienced by health and social care workers. This toolkit includes a set of communications assets which can be used in a variety of health and social care settings as well as social media channels, and is available via the Community Pharmacy Scotland website.