Long queue of people outside a community pharmacy (Photo: iStock).
By Olivia Williams

Pharmacy staff in Merseyside have reported a sharp rise in aggressive and violent behaviour from customers.

Employees in pharmacies are currently on the NHS frontline tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Sefton’s Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) said the challenges during these unprecedented times have “amplified” due to claims staff had faced abuse from customers.

A statement from the LPC said:  “The challenges are amplified by the aggressive and in some cases violent behaviour of members of the public towards our teams.

“Our research amongst the pharmacy teams we represent has shown a significant rise in cases.”

Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson also condemned the reports of vile behaviour from some members of the public towards pharmacy staff.

He said during these times people needed to “care for those who care for us” and support pharmacy teams.

He said: “In these extremely challenging times we need to care for those who care for us, and this includes pharmacists and their staff.

“Chemists are a public service on the front line of the fight against COVID-19.

“With the right support pharmacies can continue to serve our communities and provide the medicines we need.”

The LPC said pharmacies are under immense pressure to ensure patients are receiving their medication.

The committee said it is asking people in Merseyside who are showing COVID-19 symptoms to avoid coming into shops and to be patient as staff are “working around the clock.”

It added that patients should order their medication as normal as there is no need to stockpile and said attempts to stockpile would contribute to disruption to the medicines supply chain.

The chair of Sefton LPC Lisa Manning said: “Community pharmacy teams are a really important part of the NHS, and like all other NHS workers they are under immense pressure at the moment.

“We are today asking patients and members to the public to take some very simple steps to help protect these teams so that pharmacies can continue to carry out their critical roles and ensure that everyone continues to get the medicines, help and support they need, when they need it.”

The committee also said pharmacies would remain open wherever possible, however some are having to reduce their opening hours.

According to the LPC this is so staff can carry out tasks such as preparing medicines and restocking shelves so that these vital services can continue safely.

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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