Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a community pharmacist in Northern Ireland has been physically attacked for asking a customer to wear a mask. It is currently not known where this despicable attack took place.

Minister Swann has commented, “I am appalled to hear that a community pharmacist has been physically assaulted for asking a customer to wear a mask… Those who cannot wear a mask for a valid reason will always be respected by health and social care colleagues so it is completely unacceptable that anyone should face abuse for requesting that someone wears a mask. Pharmacists work at the very heart of our communities providing support and expertise daily. They deserve our utmost respect and anything less will not be tolerated.”

Local NI representative for the Pharmacists Defence Association (PDA), Una O’Farrell commented that the number of cases of abuse towards pharmacy staff has increased throughout the pandemic.

Mrs O’Farrell also stated, “Working practices have changed there’s an increased demand on the system and we’ve remained accessible our doors have been open… We have seen an increase in reports of aggression or violence in pharmacies. We at the PDA are calling for the Department of Health, employers and all associated bodies to support our campaign of zero tolerance and to publicly state that. Regardless of circumstance I think violence or aggression is never an appropriate response in a healthcare setting.”