“Abuse of pharmacy staff is never acceptable”

02 Apr 2020

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC explains how any form of abuse is not tolerated. It is disheartening to hear that so many of our members are facing abuse from customers and patients during this challenging time.


It can be difficult to know how to deal with an aggressive customer/patient, so here are some helpful hints and tips for you to use if you are ever unfortunately faced with such a situation:


Keep calm and ‘pharmacy on!’

  • Firstly, it is important to remember that you are doing an amazing job, and that many are appreciative of your work. Don’t allow one person to take away your credibility 
  • Remain calm at all times
  • Listen to the customer/patient’s concerns fully before responding


Remain professional

  • Always remain professional. It may be tempting to retaliate, but it is important to show respect and act professionally with integrity at all times
  • If it is a genuine complaint where there is an error, apologise immediately, and follow your pharmacy’s complaints procedure accordingly


Think about your voice and body language

  • Ensure you keep the volume of your voice low as this will encourage the patient to match your volume and hopefully help to diffuse the situation
  • The way someone presents his or her body language could convey nonverbal information. By being able to quickly identify from someone’s body language that they are in an angry mind-set, can better prepare you for how to react accordingly. It can also make you consciously aware of your own body language too. For example:
    • A customer/patient standing with their arms crossed may indicate that they feel defensive or closed-off
    • Someone placing their hands on their hips can be a sign of aggressiveness
    • Having a closed posture (by keeping your arms crossed and hunching forward) could indicate hostility

The NPA have created zero tolerance posters, available on the NPA website. We recommend you print and display these posters so customers and patients are reminded to act kindly, especially during these unprecedented times.

Note: If the person who presents the prescription threatens or subjects the pharmacist and/or members of the pharmacy team with violence, or commits or threatens to commit a criminal offence then under the NHS Regulations 2013 (England) you are permitted to refuse serving such individuals.