Acute medicine shortages in England hit patients and pharmacies

Spanish health agency warns of withdrawal of well-known drug to lower cholestorol

Spanish health agency warns of withdrawal of well-known drug to lower cholestorol. Image - Pixabay

Research by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) shows that acute medicine shortages in England is resulting in abuse from frustrated patients as more than two thirds of the pharmacies report being without stock every day.

The PSNC, which represents community pharmacists across England, says that many patients are unable to get their regular medication resulting in growing animosity towards pharmacists.

According to their report, the association says that many drugs are in short supply including Hormone Therapy Replacement due to Brexit and the pandemic which has affected supplies of key raw materials needed in the manufacture of many drugs.

As a result pharmacists are being threatened, spat and sworn at for something that it is outside of their control.

More than half of pharmacists and counter staff say the ongoing supply issues is causing problems for customers managing their health. Two thirds of those pharmacies report daily shortages and another quarter reporting several shortages a week,

Two-thirds of pharmacies say they are dealing with shortages every day and another 21% encounter them several times a week.

The extensive survey covered 1,132 staff, 418 managers and 5,000 finding that:

  • 75 percent of pharmacies have seen patients turn aggressive when told they cannot have the medication they have been prescribed.
  • 49 percent of staff say patient abuse is undermining their mental wellbeing.
  • 51 percent believing that supply chain issues affect patients every day.

Janet Morrison, the PSNC’s Chief Executive said: “It is really worrying to hear that pharmacy staff are so routinely facing aggression from patients. Pharmacists tell us anecdotally that this can include verbal abuse, swearing, spitting and threatening to report staff to regulators.

“Many community pharmacies are having to deal with medicine supply issues on a daily basis. This adds pressures on to already busy pharmacy teams and can also be worrying for patients if they have to wait longer for the medicines that they need.”

She said patients are being left “frustrated and inconvenienced” with many receiving none or only part of the medication they are due and having to return at a later date to receive the balance. Many are also having to call doctors to prescribe a different drug, one they have in stock, or calling other pharmacies to see if they have supplies.

Pharmacies like most other businesses are battling staff shortages due to illness, with some taking to reducing their opening hours as they struggle to cope. That in is turn impacting on medical practices and walk-in centres as patients look to get the medication they need.

A statement from Department of Health and Social Care said:  “There is zero tolerance of violence or abuse directed at healthcare staff who have devoted so much to protect patients during the pandemic and deserve to work in a safe and secure environment free from assault or harassment.

“The department has well established procedures to deal with medicine shortages and works closely with the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS to minimise disruption on the few occasions they arise.”

Despite claims from the government that they are working to minimise disruption, acute medicine shortages continue to affect patients.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at