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Xrayser: The 15 most annoying situations in pharmacy

"People who lean over the edge of the dispensary in an overly friendly, chummy way"

Xrayser explains how the rain can give him some respite from the most vexing of pharmacy situations – by keeping patients at home

A patient came in today and said: “Isn’t it annoying – after all this fine weather, the rain has come.” I thought: “No. For those of us working in pharmacy that’s probably the least annoying thing that happens.” The following is what’s annoying...

  1. Staplers. All of them. There is a devil inside that makes them jam with unerring regularity and has me flight test them across the dispensary.
  2. The phone rings with an automated call from the main wholesaler informing me that “owing to logistical problems your delivery times may be disrupted”. What does that mean – will it arrive or not? Do I phone the patients who had been promised drugs this afternoon to say they’ll have to take their script to another pharmacy, only for the delivery of non-returnable stock to arrive half an hour later, or wait and break the news if there’s no delivery when they come in?
  3. The phone rings again, and it’s yet another patient asking if their prescription has arrived. I curse the electronic prescription system, and long for the days when a piece of paper in their hand meant patients knew where their script was. “My surgery said they were emailing it over today. No? Not yet? I’ll call again this afternoon. Then three times tomorrow…”
  4. The phone ringing full stop.
  5. Hearing the message: “We are experiencing a high volume of calls, please wait” – no matter what time you call an organisation.
  6. People who lean over the edge of the dispensary in an overly friendly, chummy way. Let me come round to your house and leer at you through your windows, and see how you like it.
  7. GP surgery receptionists who adamantly tell patients their script has been sent electronically, but are looking at “EPS R1” on their screen, which means it’s just bar-coded paper.
  8. People who say, “have you got a prescription for me?” and then wait 10 minutes while we turn the place upside down before saying: “I’m not expecting anything, I just wanted to check.”
  9. Random scripts that arrive for monitored dosage system patients, without anything to say if this new drug or different strength is to add or replace an existing dose. Hang on, while I get the pharmacy crystal ball...
  10. Anyone with a child.
  11. People who say: “Got something for this?” while pointing to a perfectly healthy looking face/eye/set of genitals.
  12. Anyone who comes into the pharmacy five minutes before closing time for a repeat prescription of 12 items and says they’ll wait.
  13. Requests for a particular brand of drug as if it’s an order for a glass of fine wine: “Oh, you can’t beat the 2014 Teva bendroflumethiazide.”
  14. People who, when asked “do you pay for your prescriptions?”, reply either “yes, unfortunately” or “no – I’m a student”.
  15. Anyone with a sore throat who looks as if their world is coming to an end and just wants sympathy, a hug, and antibiotics. The poor darling.

So, to be honest, the rain isn’t a bad thing. At least it keeps many of the above at home, and gives me some much-needed peace!

A long-running C+D contributor, the identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but his irreverent views are known by all. Tweet him @Xrayser


Graham Morris, Design

Pensioners, with all the time in the world, queing up at the pharmacy entrance half an hour before we open. Then knocking on the window to try and attract attention while I am trying to sort out problems in the few precious moments of peace before the day begins.

Andrew Low, Community pharmacist

Speaking as a patient,from the other side,I find the response of pharmacy (and pharmacists are in charge of this domain) to the offer of Sahaja Yoga meditation unresponsive and unenthusiastic,at least so far.

"Silence Your Mind" by Dr Ramesh Manocha,GP and researcher at the university of Sydney,provides convincing medical evidence.

Do not continue to keep your heads in the sand over collective consciousness and other mental health issues,do not act dumb.It takes some courage to address some of these problems in healthcare and it won't be done by yearning for the dispensary and ticking boxes on services and review schedules.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

When Boots, Lloyds et al offer meditation breaks for pharmacists THEN I might consider something like this. Until then, fat chance.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

I'm sure if you became a muslim them they would be obliged to give you time to pray. Maybe that's the way forwards for UK pharmacists?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Unfortunately, praying isn't my strong point...

Edmund KWIATKOWSKI, Community pharmacist

Thank you Xrayser, that's the story of the last 30 years of my life, almost, comforting to know that the same scenarios are being played out in pharmacies all over the country and that we're in this all together!

Andrew Low, Community pharmacist

Were all in this together all right but as a patient with schizophrenia and a follower of Sahaja Yoga meditation,I do think patients are sold short,short changed.Squire Trelawny,Doctor Livesey,Long John Silver and all the pirates all in the jolly boat together rowing towards Treasure Island,and what's it all about?Money really basically.

That's the annoying thing about healthcare in general,admittedly not just pharmacy.

janet maynard, Community pharmacist

Love no7- happens all the time and from the patient's point of view it is nearly always our fault!


Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

What about when the reps come in? Bang on when you’re really busy!! They don’t even have any free pens, such a waste of time. 

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Ever since I qualified, I always tell reps that I don't have any say in prescribing, so go and see the GP. And I'm not comfortable giving out information about how many of their items I dispense. And I don't want the pens and pamphlets, I just want to get back to work.

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

16. Patient clutching a repeat slip pointing to an item that was missing from their Rx insisting it was prescribed.

17. Another 'important' initiative and soon to be target from head office to add to all the others

18. Customers that think their Rx will be quicker if they watch...always a good time to do a non-urgent task though.

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

I can't possibly wait while you dispense my prescription so please deliver it later!

What utter bilge

Christopher Jay, Community pharmacist

How about the alergic patient that is not. All my tablets must be white and have no colours in them, I'm allergic to colours. No you are not you are just dependent on Titanium Dioxide, now that's annoying.

A Hussain, Senior Management

Have a patient who's allergic to antihistamines if they're not Teva!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

When someone does the No 14 one, I either go into pedantic overdrive explaining how fortunate they actually are to have to pay and not be old, skint or seriously ill, or else I take great delight in telling the spongy student that they are now welcomed to the real world of pain and payment.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Brilliant! No.7 actually made me laugh out loud as I thought this was just me it happened to

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Good article but not accurate. For me the the most annoying things in pharmacy are:

1. Getting calls in the morning to say that staff are sick, again.

2. Calls from the area manager with a passive aggressive tone about services.

3. Finding out that the previous day's staff don't know their alphabet so prescriptions become irretrievable.

4. Looking at my payslip.

5. Dealing with remuneration discrepancies from some agency I used 6 months ago to use the world's worst locum.

7. Realising that I am basically just a lackey with a degree being ordered around by people who do not even know what MUR stands for.

8. Wishing that I had just had a few extra glasses of wine last night and choked on my own vomit so that I wouldn't be in this situation again.

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

A set of genitals?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

You're obviously too young to have ever done truss fitting. The need for it to be next to the skin has led to some far too close encounters with things I can't unsee over the years.

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

Go to Casablanca!!

As ever Xrayser--spot on!!

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