Protecting pharmacy teams

RPS has welcomed confirmation that all pharmacists and pharmacy team members are covered by the provisions of the Assaults on Emergency Workers Act 2018. This was confirmed to the RPS by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) this week.

The legislation which applies to England and Wales enables judges to apply more severe sentences to those found guilty of any physical attacks on emergency or healthcare workers. The Emergency Workers Act in Scotland does not extend to the same extent as the English/Welsh legislation, but this does not in any way detract from the ability of the police to act.  We have been assured that the law in Scotland is more than sufficient to deal with the types of incidents pharmacy teams are experiencing. The police will treat any calls from those experiencing this type of behaviour very seriously, with a prompt response.

Commenting on the issue, RPS President Sandra Gidley said:

“Recent reports of pharmacists and pharmacy team members being subject to threats and both verbal and physical abuse from some members of the public is hugely concerning. This is unacceptable at any time, but particularly so at a time when pharmacy teams are working flat out to meet increased demand and are doing all that they can to support the public.

“When attacks are of a physical nature it is vitally important the pharmacists and their teams have reassurance that the law is there to protect them. There had been some ambiguity as to whether this legislation applied to pharmacy teams. We’re therefore delighted to have received clarification from the DHSC this week that this legislation applies to all pharmacy teams across the healthcare system.

“The RPS has been working hard throughout the coronavirus outbreak to highlight the work of pharmacists in both national and local media, engaging with the National Police Chief Council and with patient group representatives. Pharmacy teams must have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of violent or abusive behaviour.

“It is also important to recognise that the majority of members of the public have been kind and understanding, and I thank them for their patience and support during what is without doubt a very challenging time for pharmacy teams.”