Reacting to the news that two pharmacists have been injured in a stabbing incident in a community pharmacy in West Belfast this morning (Thursday 06 April 2017), Mr Sheelin McKeagney, Chair of the Pharmacy Forum NI, said:


This is shocking news and my thoughts are immediately with the two pharmacists involved – I hope that they make a full and quick recovery. This will also have been a traumatic experience for the members of staff and members of the public who witnessed the attack. I am pleased that according to initial reports the police have already an individual in custody in relation to this incident and I would appeal for any witnesses to come forward with any relevant information to the police.

Front line healthcare staff, across the Health and Social Care system, face the risk of violence and abuse on a daily basis. This is no different for pharmacists in a community pharmacy setting and today’s attack clearly illustrates this fact.

Pharmacists are highly skilled and capable professionals who provide invaluable care and services to patients and communities across Northern Ireland.  It is vitally important that they are able to work in an environment where they can deliver high quality care to all patients without intimidation or fear of abuse and violence.

The Trusts, HSCB and the Department have sent out a message of zero tolerance on abusive behaviour and violence against healthcare staff and I would like to repeat that message today. In some instances increased security has been put in place across the Trusts, however, this is not something that most community pharmacists are able to consider.

Whilst, we should be somewhat reassured that such violence is an extremely rare occurrence in  a community pharmacy setting, I will be seeking talks with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Department of Health to examine how pharmacists can improve their personal security and that of their staff.

Through the Pharmacists’ Advice and Support Service (PASS), the Pharmacy Forum NI will be offering the pharmacists involved whatever support we can provide to assist them in making a full recovery and a timely return to serving the public.

Mr Sheelin McKeagney