COMMUNITY pharmacists on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus in East Lancashire are being subjected to violence and verbal aggression, an industry leader has warned.

Community Pharmacy Lancashire (CPL), which represents 369 community pharmacies in the county, has launched a ‘care for your pharmacy’ campaign in response to the rising issue.

The three-month campaign calls on patients to respect staff, not to turn up at pharmacies if they have the symptoms of coronavirus and to follow 'one in one out rules' if they do go to a chemist.

It comes after the CPL reported a “significant rise” in cases of “aggressive and in some cases violent behaviour of members of the public” towards its teams who are on the front line of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CPL said its teams, who are a critical part of the NHS and in the past weeks they have seen demand for over-the-counter medicines, other products, advice and reassurance soar, are working incredibly hard to maintain the high standards of care that their patients and communities are used to under very challenging circumstances. They have called on the public to show their teams patience and respect.

CPL chief executive Kath Gulson 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.”

Residents are asked to be patient – with all pharmacies are under immense pressure – avoid pharmacies if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 – this includes having a dry, persistent cough, fever or shortness of breath – and order medicines as normal. The CPL said there is no need to stockpile medicines and ordering extra prescriptions and buying more over the counter medicines than you need will contribute to disruption to the medicines supply chain, which is otherwise robust.

The CPL also said it will not tolerate abusive behaviour towards pharmacy staff and said pharmacies may reduce their opening hours to allow them to keep up with prescription demand.

They also asked patients displaying symptoms of coronavirus, who have a regular prescriptions delivery, to ask a family member or friend to collect it in the first instance. They said this allows its teams to concentrate on those who cannot leave their homes due to isolation