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As the pressures increase to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19), Scottish pharmacists are reporting an increase in abusive and aggressive behaviour. The backbone of medicines supply in the NHS across Scotland, the community network is critically important in dispensing prescriptions and providing advice on medicines. Protecting this resource in local communities is always important but is now critical to deal with the current public health emergency.

Commenting on the pressures facing pharmacists, Chair of RPS Scotland, Jonathan Burton, who is a pharmacist in Stirling, said:
“I have been shocked to hear of pharmacy teams being verbally abused. I have also heard of fights starting outside pharmacy premises. This is totally unacceptable behaviour.

“Community pharmacists and their teams are doing everything they possibly can to help in very difficult circumstances. They are under significant pressure and they need the help of the public so they can continue to provide vital healthcare support. I ask that that anyone who needs to visit a pharmacy remains patient and is respectful to all pharmacy staff.”

In response to the reports of aggression towards pharmacy staff, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has taken its concerns to the police authorities to help make sure that all pharmacy teams across the NHS are kept safe and protected against any forms of aggressive, violent and abusive behaviour.

Patients and the public are being reminded to adhere to the following advice:
• Do not visit a pharmacy if you or anyone in your household has a temperature or a new and continuous cough, even if it is mild;
• Plan ahead and try to order your next prescription seven days before it is due.
• If you are handing in your prescription, please add relevant contact details so that the community pharmacies can let you know when your medicines are ready.
• If you are self-isolating please ask family, friends or neighbours to pick up your medication for you. If this isn’t possible, ask your community pharmacy for advice about how they can help.
• If you are collecting medicines for someone take ID with you. Ensure you protect yourself and the patient by delivering the medicines safely and keeping a safe distance from each other.

Some community pharmacies are also changing the way they work to protect the public and their teams against the coronavirus. RPS Scotland is encouraging the public to become familiar with any new arrangements including the opening times of pharmacies and the importance of social distancing measures.

RPS Scotland recognises that these are unprecedented times which call for new ways of working. They ask that everyone who needs to visit a pharmacy respect the staff who are working hard to support every patient with their medication needs.

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