The latest situation we seem to be facing in the Pharmacy? We have had a number of patients that just seem….well…”lost”. They talk to us about minor ailments and aches. But when we ask them questions, their symptoms are so confusing we have to refer them to the Pharmacist.
When the Pharmacist tries to make sense of what they are reporting to us, it seems most likely that their symptoms are brought on by stress. It has been a stressful year, so that is no surprise.
We were talking about it last week. So many of our patients seem to be neglected. They have not been able to have the occasional ten minute appointment with their GP over the past twelve months. They stumble into the Pharmacy looking clueless. They know they don’t feel right, but they have no idea what could be causing it.
Our role is now involving a lot more reassurance to our customers that the NHS cares about them and wants to help them. But wow, it is so time-consuming. It is really challenging to give half an hour to a customer that needs to talk when you have forty prescriptions to dispense before customers arrive to collect their medications.
We are trying to get that balance right, but it is challenging. We are all huge believers that sometimes, a little kindness can make a huge difference to the welfare of our customers.
I know that the Pandemic has been stressful, but we have seen some strange behaviour at times from customers. One of the daily challenges we have in Pharmacy is customers who come to collect their prescriptions or buy a box of Solpadine Max when the Pharmacist is absent on their lunch break.
Legally, we are not allowed to do certain tasks while the Pharmacist is not there to supervise our activities. We are not permitted to give out prescription medications or to sell Pharmacy only medications.
Our Pharmacists usually work for twelve hour shifts. They are allowed an hour’s lunch break. Most just go for a quick walk to the nearby supermarket, buy a sandwich or a microwave meal and then come back to the Pharmacy and eat their lunch in a corner.. Usually they are only absent for ten minutes. But while the have gone, we cannot give out prescription medications.
Some customers accept that and return later on. Others throw an absolute wobbly and start ranting about how ridiculous it is. One of the challenges in Pharmacy is that some customers don’t seem to accept that a Pharmacist who works twelves hours is allowed a break to stretch their legs and buy some lunch.
Most difficult customer of the year goes to….the lady who would not take no for an answer and decided to belittle every member of our team.
We had the most odd situation at work this week. A lady demanded we supply her with a covid vaccine. We explained that we are not administering covid vaccines. She looked around sixty years of age, so we assured her that her GP will contact her to invite her to attend a vaccination appointment.
Yet, she was not satisfied, she said she has seen pharmacies on the news administering the vaccine. We acknowledged that some pharmacies are doing exactly that, but we are not. She became furious, accusing us of trying to trick her.
Then she asked if we – our members of staff – have been vaccinated. I stayed quiet but one of the young girls nodded and told her that NHS front line workers have been offered the vaccine and that most of us have received it. That only added fuel to the fire. The lady started ranting and yelling that we had to arrange a covid vaccine for her.
We tried to calm her down, explaining we had no way of arranging an appointment for her, assuring her that she would be invited in time and reminding her that the best way to stay safe is to stay at home and be careful to wear a face mask and observe social distancing rules when out for essential reasons such as grocery shopping.
She stayed at the pharmacy for an hour distracting us from our work, demanding we arrange a covid vaccine for her and accusing us of deceiving her.
Last week I was running on adrenaline all week because work was so nuts and I realized something – I love ice-cream. It is like the best energy food.
There is a gelato bar not far from the pharmacy I work at. Everyday last week I went there for my take-away sugar rush to give myself the boost I needed to face the afternoon. Who would have thought it would be ice-cream that would help me keep my act together?
It is amazing how much damage locum pharmacists can do in a day. They come in and try to deal with the prescriptions themselves – not caring about all the systems we have in place to look after our customers. It’s a nightmare trying to resolve all the upsets.
The unimaginable has happened! Four members of the pharmacy team are having to self-isolate. One is ill, and tested positive for Covid-19. Everyone else was tested again, three tested positive. I tested negative.
Work over the last two days has been manic! Better get myself to sleep and get some rest before another crazy day tomorrow.!
I have been working at chemist’s for a couple of years. It’s alright. 2020 was insane, but we were not the worst effected. We have had customers giving us their opinion on the pandemic for the past ten months. This should give you an idea of the different opinions – and we have to be polite no matter what the customer says to us:
- first they said it was deliberate, that a nefarious government engineered the virus and unleashed it to gain the upper on other countries.
- then they said the virus is not real, that it’s a hoax
- then they were glad that schools closed because they were terrified for their kids
- then they were saying that kids should be at school because they are suffering at home
- then we have queues out the door of customers asking for face masks (we couldn’t get them at the time, but the government were saying back then they were not necessary
- then face masks were mandatory and they were saying that facemasks violated their human rights
- then they were saying we desperately need a vaccine to get us out of this mess
- then they start saying that they don’t trust the vaccine and they think there is a microchip inside it
People are cute man. We have had the weirdest situations and scenes with customers yelling at each other “Back off buster, stay two metres away from me,” or storming into the store pushing each other out of the way to grab as much alcohol gel as they could,
So the latest thing is the attitude towards the vaccine. I keep on hearing people say they can’t wait for everyone to have the vaccine so we can all go back to normal. I don’t want to tell them – “normal” has gone. We are hoping they will be able to start lifting some of the restrictions in the next few months. But normal won’t be around for a long time. Packed arenas, conventions (someone seriously needs to tell the US that), festivals, marathons – there are so many parts of what used to be normal that just won’t be safe for a long time.
We are hoping that soon, we can visit the Aunties without worrying. We are hoping for some normality to come back. But we cannot go back to being packed like sardines on a train for a long time. Even once the vaccination is rolled out, there is a lot that needs to have changed. Safety is going to be different from now on. It has to take into account a mutant strains, that the vaccines are not 100% effective and that some people don’t want it.
Even if you have had the vaccine, we are still going to need to be careful for a long time to come.