A pharmacist is calling on the Government to improve its communication with the public about the Covid vaccine programme, after he was threatened with a knife by a patient who wanted his second jab ‘right away’.
Sachin Patel, managing director at Lincoln Pharmacy in Tower Hamlets, told The Pharmacist his staff have received ‘some level’ of abuse in the Covid vaccine clinic every week, but earlier this month was the first time he was forced to call the police — fearing for his safety and the safety of his patients.
Earlier this month (14 July) a man entered Lincoln Pharmacy and asked for his second vaccine. When told by Mr Patel that the pharmacy did not offer walk-in appointments and that he would have to book his vaccine online, the patient ‘kicked off’.
‘He did not believe me that our pharmacy did not offer walk-ins and instead continued to insist we offer him his vaccine right away,’ he explained.
When Mr Patel refused, the patient shouted at him to ‘come outside for a fight’ and threatened to stab him. He also said he knew who he was and that he would ‘knife him up’ on the street next time he saw him.
‘It was scary,’ Mr Patel said, ‘but honestly, I was more worried about all the young people sitting in the pharmacy waiting for their vaccines.’
Mr Patel said that a young girl who was watching the situation unfold stood up and confronted the man by asking him what he was doing and telling him to ‘get out’.
After Mr Patel had called the police the man rang the pharmacy and apologised, he later visited the pharmacy to apologise in person.
Mr Patel said the level of violence he experienced is rare, however, he said he has dealt with patients weekly for refusal to wear a mask and get angry at the team when told they have to.
‘I think it’s all down to a lack of communication from the Government on what the public is expected to do and also lack of integration of the NHS,’ he said. ‘The Government really needs to improve on this.’
Some NHS GP and PCN led sites have been fast-tracking people’s second vaccine by administering it just three or four weeks after the first. This means sites, such as Lincoln’s Pharmacy, who are not offering the vaccine early, have experienced criticism from some patients who think this is the norm.
‘Everyone wants an early dose to go on holiday, excuses are flying about and people are getting frustrated when there is one rule somewhere and not somewhere else,’ said Mr Patel.
Earlier this week, a family-run village pharmacy serving as a vaccination centre for the local population was vandalised with anti-vaccine graffiti.
Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) told The Pharmacist that ‘threatening pharmacy staff is unacceptable.
‘Pharmacy teams are an important and valued part of every community up and down the country. They work hard to ensure that patients can access medicines and health care advice when and where they need it, and have been an important part of the vaccine programme.’
She added: ‘It is vital that they are able to do their work safely and do not feel threatened or in danger.’
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