Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, visits Kamsons Pharmacy, Crawley, to hear about abusive behaviour suffered by community pharmacy

This week, Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne visited Kamsons Pharmacy in Crawley to talk to staff about the abusive behaviour all pharmacies are facing from patients across Surrey and Sussex.

The LPC invited PCC Bourne as part of its new membership of the Safer Sussex Business Partnership – which sees Sussex Police working with local retailers, healthcare and other partners to find ways to reduce reporting time to allow more time for shop workers and pharmacists to do their job.

As the representative body for community pharmacy across Surrey and Sussex, and alongside the team at Kamsons, it was important to highlight the abuse of pharmacists and other pharmacy staff which Mrs Bourne says is ‘unacceptable behaviour that will not be tolerated.’

PCC Katy Bourne spent considerable amount of time speaking to Tom and Kamson’s area manager Rahul to learn about the pressures.

Tom Fitzgerald, Pharmacist Manager at Kamsons Pharmacy in Broadfield, Crawley told Mrs Bourne of the difficulties all pharmacies have faced during the pandemic – with high demands for pharmacy services and advice resulting in longer waiting times for prescriptions to be dispensed or to speak to a pharmacist. All of this accompanied by the additional COVID safety restrictions in place have meant that some patients have become frustrated and made offensive gestures or acted aggressively, shouting at the counter staff.

Mark Donaghy, Chair of West Sussex LPC and a Senior Pharmacist at Kamsons Pharmacy, said of the experience of pharmacy: “Pharmacy teams have reported patients getting angry and acting aggressively if prescriptions are delayed arriving at pharmacies. This kind of low-level crime, along with theft, is a common occurrence in community pharmacy that is not always reported to the Police.

He added: “Joining the Safer Sussex Business Partnership and receiving a visit from Commissioner Bourne at Kamsons Pharmacy, Crawley, to understand the issues faced by community pharmacy will help to drive forward a change in approach and response to all criminal activity in community pharmacy – from recognising the very real, day-to-day, anti-social and criminal behaviour pharmacies experience, and ensuring a simple system of crime reporting for staff.  Our NHS pharmacy teams work tirelessly on the community frontline and they deserve to be able to do their job safely and without fear.”

PCC Bourne said: “The abuse of frontline healthcare workers during a pandemic, when they are working incredibly hard to ensure we have the medication we need, is unacceptable.

“Continuing with my ‘Keeping Christmas Kind’ campaign message, I’m urging everyone to be patient, show respect and not take out any mounting frustrations on our frontline key workers.

“It is also clear that the police online reporting forms can be too time consuming for local businesses who have experienced multiple offences daily during this pandemic.

“This barrier means that the police currently may not have as clear a picture of business crime levels in the county as we would like and therefore may not always deploying the most appropriate policing response.

“I want to make it as quick and easy as possible for those working in our local high streets to get help from the police. Moving forward, all police call handlers will be trained to flag business crimes and ensure that those who have been a victim of abuse are offered the right support.

“Working with Sussex Police, I will continue to make tackling business crime one of our top priorities next year.”

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