Amid the ongoing furore over shortages of Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test kits that led pharmacy staff to bear customers’ wrath, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and Company Chemists Association (CCA) have jointly appealed the public to be “patient and courteous to pharmacy teams”.
In an open letter, the two organisations have urged patients and customers to be patient, courteous and safe while visiting their local pharmacies.
Highlighting the efforts put in by healthcare workers to keep everyone safe through this tough winter, the two organisations said the pressure of Covid-19 and shortage of LFD kits have sometimes led to verbal abuse of pharmacy staff.
Mark Lyonette, NPA chief executive said: “The vast majority of pharmacy customers and patients are polite and understanding. The supply situation with Lateral Flow Tests is stretching people’s patience, but that’s no excuse for abusive behaviour and people need to understand the constraints on pharmacy teams at this time.”
Alongside their routine job of providing medicines, health advice and a range of NHS services, pharmacies have put in extra effort to protect people during the pandemic.
Malcolm Harrison, CCA chief executive said: “We are saddened to hear of reports of pharmacy staff being subject to abuse and violence. We urge members of the public to remember that pharmacy teams are on the frontline doing everything they can to support patients.
“This includes distributing lateral flow test kits and administering nearly 17 million Covid-19 vaccines to date. Teams have worked tirelessly since the pandemic began in early 2020 and it’s imperative that members of the public treat staff with the respect that they deserve.”
So far, pharmacies have distributed 300 million Covid test kits, but the current supply is not enough to meet the growing demand, the joint letter stated.
The two organisations have asked the government to either guarantee enough stock, or have an honest conversation with the public about prioritising essential workers.
The letter further noted that use of 16 digit “Collect Code” that people have to present while requesting a test kit is not required as it does not guarantee the availability of kits with pharmacies. The purpose of this code is mere monitoring.
NPA and CCA have suggested people not to visit pharmacies if they suspect being infected and wear face masks unless exempted.
They also advised people to order their repeat medication in plenty of time before the current supply runs out to avoid delays.