Members of the public have been urged to treat high street pharmacy staff with respect.
In response to reports of widespread abuse of their members in the wake of Covid-19, national pharmacy bodies have launched a united front and asked the public to value the work of pharmacy professionals who provide vital support to the NHS frontline.
The PSNC, RPS, AIM, CCA and NPA said they were receiving daily accounts from pharmacy staff who were being subjected to verbal, and sometimes physical abuse, from customers looking to stockpile medicines and other products.
“As some people scramble to stockpile medicines and supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic, this is putting unprecedented pressure on pharmacy teams and the supply chain more generally,” PSNC said in a statement.
It added that many pharmacies are struggling to manage staff shortages and remaining staff are working long hours to meet demand following Covid-19 pandemic.
Chief Executive Simon Dukes said: “Like all parts of the NHS, community pharmacies are facing huge challenges as a result of COVID-19. The situation is unprecedented, and throughout the pandemic it will be critical that pharmacy teams are able to continue their important work getting the nation’s medicines to them.
“Due to the increasing pressures on them, many pharmacies are having to take steps to cope and to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. Our ask is that the public respect these decisions, and recognise pharmacy teams as the NHS heroes that they are.”
Meanwhile, pharmacy staff have been advised to operate on a closed-door basis at some points during the day. This, it is hoped, would pharmacy teams to dispense medicines safely and to meet unprecedented demand for prescription medicines.
Paul Bennett, Chief Executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “Pharmacy teams are working really hard to support the public and the NHS in the face of huge demand and difficult circumstances. We know that most of the public recognise more than ever just how pharmacists are key to supporting the local community.
“So it’s concerning to hear of the rise in poor behaviour from some people towards pharmacy staff. This can’t be allowed to continue and we’ve asked the Government to ensure all health frontline workers can feel safe.”
Members of the public have also been advised not to visit their respective pharmacies with Covid-19 symptoms, such as persistent cough, fever or shortness of breath, among others.