MEDICINE shortages across the North East is leading to increasing levels of abuse directed at pharmacists by angry patients, it is claimed.

Staff at Dormanstown Pharmacy, in Redcar, has been affected by a nationwide shortage of a number of medications, including HRT, popular brands like Calpol and Gaviscon and even paracetamol.

The team at the pharmacy in Ennis Square are spending more time trying to get hold of medicines and are also having to correct mistakes being made with orders due to worker shortages at warehouses and depots.

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They said: “This creates extra work and stress for the pharmacy team, but it is ultimately the patient who suffers in the end.

“Unable to receive the medication they need, many patients become angry and direct abuse at pharmacy staff.”

The spokesperson added: “Supply of products in all industries have been affected by rising costs of raw materials, staff resources, fuel and energy costs, and the pharmaceutical industry is no different.

“Furthermore, we must acknowledge the impact of Brexit on these rising costs.”

There are supply issues across various health areas, including HRT, epilepsy, acne and contraception. Popular brands like Beechams, Calpol, and Gaviscon are also affected, the pharmacy said.

Last month, a survey by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) found 83 per cent of pharmacies reported a significant increase in medicine supply issues in the past year, leading to extra work and additional stress for staff.

The Northern Echo:

Two-thirds of respondents said medicines supply chain issues are a daily occurrence, with 97 per cent reporting that this led to frustration from patients.

Jasmine Shah, head of advice and support services at the National Pharmacy Association said: “In recent years, medicines shortages have become a fact of day to day life for pharmacists across the UK. Because of the lengths pharmacists go to in order to source medicines, patients usually get what they need in time, but that’s not always possible.

“Pharmacists work hard to get people the medicines they need, when and where they need it. 

“Occasionally this isn’t possible and pharmacists find themselves at the sharp end of criticism from customers, for something that’s beyond their control.  Sometimes this even leads to customers verbally abusing pharmacy staff, which is never acceptable.

“As experts in medicines, pharmacists should be given greater flexibility to take decisions at the point of care to manage medicine supplies. This includes the authority to amend prescriptions or share medicines amongst pharmacies when to do so could help maintain supplies.

“Our general advice to patients on regular medication is to make sure you order your repeat medication in time – before your current supply runs out - to give yourself the best chance of getting the medicines you need without delays to treatment.”

The Government says temporary shortages of medicines are caused by a number of reasons, including manufacturing difficulties, regulatory problems and problems with the supply of raw materials, or from issues which are related to the distribution of the product

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are doing everything we can to ensure people can continue to access the treatments they need.

“We have well established procedures to deal with medicine shortages and work closely with industry, the NHS and others to prevent shortages and resolve any issues as soon as possible.”


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