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Pharmacy minister to discuss 'spate of violent crimes'

Steve Brine admitted that becoming pharmacy minister “is a challenging and new role” for him
Steve Brine admitted that becoming pharmacy minister “is a challenging and new role” for him

One of new pharmacy minister Steve Brine’s first engagements with the sector will be to address the rise in violent crimes in pharmacies, including discussing C+D’s own findings.

In a letter sent to the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) last month Mr Brine said he is “liaising with Home Office colleagues” about the “recent spate of violent crimes” in pharmacies.

Mr Brine said he is “look[ing] forward” to meeting the NPA, “to get to know more about” the organisation, and discuss the NPA’s “very understandable concerns” around the rise in crimes affecting community pharmacies.

Minister will discuss C+D’s findings

NPA chairman Ian Strachan said C+D’s investigation into crime in pharmacies across the UK – set out in an interactive map – “will inform” the meeting with Mr Brine.

“We are growing increasingly concerned about the number of thefts, burglaries and violent crimes suffered by community pharmacies,” Mr Strachan told C+D. “We are grateful to C+D for its work around this area.”

Yesterday, C+D exclusively revealed the extent and severity of crimes pharmacists and their staff are facing. Across the 35 police authorities that provided data to C+D, there were 291 cases of violent crime – including incidents of arson – in pharmacies in 2016.

“Regrettably such attacks take place all too often,” Mr Strachan said.

“The nature of the pharmacy business coupled with its prominent, but very necessary, position on our high streets means it can often be an attractive target for criminals.”

Mr Strachan also said he was pleased with the “favourable response” from Mr Brine, and will use the meeting “to discuss how community pharmacy can be better protected”.

Pharmacy minister is “challenging role”

In his letter to the NPA, Mr Brine said “it is a privilege” to join the Department of Health. He admitted that becoming minister with responsibility for pharmacy “is a challenging and new role” for him, “but one that I look forward to taking up”.

Mr Brine has remained silent towards the sector since his appointment in June.

In an open letter to the minister, published last month, C+D editor James Waldron urged Mr Brine to "make his mark" by "pushing for a funding framework" for pharmacy that is "fair, realistic and sustainable".

You can read Mr Waldron’s full letter here.

Use C+D’s interactive map to find out how many crimes took place in pharmacies in your area in 2016.

Have you experienced crime in your pharmacy?

Rubicon Mango, Academic pharmacist

A friend of mine works for a multiple down south. He has had to deal with repeated shoplifts and aggresive behaviour from a particular patient. However this patient was on multiple items and methadone to which the area manager directed him to leave him alone as it brings an increase to our item number. Also was told there are a number of processes you have to go through with governing bodies before barring a patient. Eventually, this patient saw fit that this push over pharmacy has no limit and decided one day to assult a staff member and threaten the counter staff with a knife before robbing the safe and till. People forget NHS staff are patients too.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Ultimately why would the likes of Pessina care if you get a brick in the face(or possibly acid for that matter) for refusing a codeine linc sale. They could have a replacement for you before you even reach the local A&E. Any complaints about the working environment can quickly set in motion your eventual dismissal with the rubber stamping by GPhC.

jack The-Lad, Communications

Yes I think you've summed up that MUR fraudster in a neat paragraph . I'm sure he could be charged at the least with Corporate Fraud.

jack The-Lad, Communications

It is good to raise awareness , however putting more staff there is not going to resolve attacks and threats. Best solution is to make Pharmacys into " Proper Pharmacys" without selling all the crap that gets nicked and not many people buy anyway and Pharmacists are paid a realistic dispensing fee that they can live on, set up their own premises and not have to work for the multiples .

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Would never work. No profit in it, sorry I meant to say patietns are at the centre of everything they do.

La Dakinio, Community pharmacist

Yes, we need to reduce the harm caused to people. Crime against staff must be unbelievably rife if this takes priority over lack of staff causing dangerous working conditions with the potential to harm patients. 

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Strange, C&D are really championing important issues. They might even make a statement sometime before Xmas updating everyone on the progress they've made on improving working conditions.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I can only presume the editorial team at C&D are having a well earned break. On their return I'm certain they will let us know where they stand on some of these important issues. As silence can be interpreted as tacit support of multiples apathy on working conditions and safety of enployees we will be hearing from them soon no doubt. 

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Fantastic! Another discussion. A few more and eventually something practical might even be done. Remember the discussion about dangerous working conditions for pharmacists and therefore patients. Thank God that got sorted out and everything is okay now.........

Sharon Stone, Communications

I think the discussion is something we should all welcome but with Boots etc cutting staff to "invisibilty" , I wonder what can be truly done . The only solution would be to have the addicts obtain their methadone etc from the same premises where they obtain their prescriptions, then Pharmacy could sever ties with these high value customers ( NOT ).

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

one break in and another attempted by one of the same people plus a psate of other break ins in a two week period here. Pregabalin and Gabapentininspired !- but worse and a bigger threat to our survival were the notorious axe wielding gang ( Jezza H, Davey M  and Big Keith ) who struck last december and inflicted severe cuts on everyone...

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

You'll probably find addicts are some of the least violent high value patients/customers. pensioners and the 'walking well' are often just as aggresive and violent.

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