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Health Service Warns Abusive Behaviour Unacceptable


At the launch of the Zero Tolerance campaign, Joe Brogan and Kathryn Turner, Health and Social Care Board and Prof Mike Mawhinney, Department of Health

Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board is working with partners to stop abuse of health staff in primary care settings.

Speaking at the launch of the Zero Tolerance campaign, Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy, Health and Social Care Board, explained: “Abuse towards any member of staff should never be tolerated and we want to raise awareness of the abuse that is directed towards our staff, particularly those in primary care settings such as community pharmacies, GP practices, dental clinics and opticians.

““In the last six months, we have seen a number of attempted thefts, some of which have involved violence or threats of violence to community pharmacists. We want to be clear that abusive and violent behaviour towards front line health care staff is unacceptable and those who persist will be reported to the authorities.”

The Zero Tolerance campaign does not just apply to violent thefts in community pharmacy. Primary healthcare staff have highlighted a trend in verbally abusive individuals that display threatening behaviour against Pharmacy, GP, Dental and Optometry staff.

Taken at launch of Zero Tolerance campaign

From left, Mark Timoney, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Department of Heath, Prof Colin Adair, Director, NI Centre for Pharmacy Learning and Development and Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy, Health and Social Care Board

Dr Sloan Harper, Director of Integrated Care said, “Primary healthcare responds to 90% of all health service contacts. It is important that primary healthcare teams are supported and recognised for the valuable work they do. We know that a tiny number of people being seen through primary healthcare services are verbally abusive and threatening to the staff who are simply trying to do their best for patients. With this campaign we wish to highlight the need to protect our staff working in primary care settings and that they have been advised to take a zero tolerance approach to unacceptable behaviour.”

As part of the Zero Tolerance campaign, a review of security has been undertaken in all community pharmacies in Northern Ireland and steps have been taken to enhance security.

The Health and Social Care Board have also been working with partners in Department of Health, Department of Justice, PSNI, Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) and the NI Centre for Postgraduate Learning and Development to help protect and educate their staff.

A series of workshops have been organised for community pharmacy staff and Police Service of Northern Ireland have tailored and will deliver their Business Crime SafeShop programme to pharmacies across Northern Ireland.

Chris Sloan, PSNI Head of Crime Prevention, said: “We have been working with staff in community pharmacies to promote safety in their workplace and educate them about protecting themselves. The SafeShop presentations include useful information about how staff can stay safe during incidents, the importance of recording and reporting instances of verbal and physical attacks, updating security measures and the importance of carrying our regular audits.

“Everyone deserves to be safe in their place of work and we are asking for the support of the whole community in showing zero tolerance to abuse of health staff.”