Give community pharmacies funding for additional security measures

Give community pharmacies funding for additional security measures

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Beth Kennedy started this petition

Community pharmacy teams in England, Wales and Scotland must be provided with dedicated funding to pay for increased security measures in response to the shocking violence that so many face at the hands of the public.

Data obtained by C+D via freedom of information requests as part of its #NoExcuseForAbuse campaign revealed that at least 27,385 incidents of crimes in pharmacies were reported to police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 2019 and 2021, with violence against staff members a significant problem.

In 2021 alone, violent crime – which includes violence against a person, public order offences, arson and criminal damage – accounted for 13.4% of all crimes in pharmacies reported in Northern Ireland, 18.1% of all crimes in England and a staggering 20.5% of all crimes in pharmacies reported in Wales, according to the data shared with C+D by 33 police forces.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, these figures are especially shocking. Pharmacy teams, who have battled to provide stellar patient care despite the pressures of COVID-19 and reduced funding, deserve respect from their customers. But instead, they know all too well that feeling of apprehension mixed with dread when faced with an irate customer, wondering whether this will be the time where they will have to make their own report to the police.

It’s time to move beyond talking tough on stamping out violence towards pharmacy teams and towards more tangible solutions.

While a £5 million support package for GPs was introduced in England last year to help improve their security measures, such as installing panic buttons and CCTV, no equivalent funding exists for community pharmacy teams in England. In fact, Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK with a similar package, whereby pharmacies can spend up to £4,000 each on additional security measures by submitting receipted invoices.

It is wonderful that decision-makers in Northern Ireland have recognised the scope of the problem and have taken proactive steps to address it. But that still leaves pharmacy teams in Wales, Scotland and England woefully under supported.

It is not enough to simply denounce patient abuse of pharmacy teams; pharmacies need adequate funding to install CCTV, panic buttons, or even security staff.

That is why commissioning bodies in England, Wales and Scotland must use Northern Ireland’s funding package as an example, and implement similar schemes in their own countries.

The proof that violence in pharmacies is occurring with alarming regularity is there in the results from C+D’s investigation. And the reality is that the actual number of violent crimes occurring in pharmacies could likely be far higher, with some victims choosing not to report incidents to the police.

What more will it take to give pharmacy teams the protection they so sorely need?

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