World news wrapup: 18 February 2021

Irish pharmacist physically assaulted over mask request; praise for quick-thinking pharmacist who saved lives; CWH searching for perfect Dunedin site

Northern Ireland, UK: A community pharmacist in Northern Ireland has been physically assaulted for asking a customer to wear a mask, according to a post by the country’s Department of Health on Twitter.

Health Minister Robin Swann described the incident as “appalling” and said the behaviour was totally unacceptable.

“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.”

Gerard Greene, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland, said the “horrendous attack” was “not an isolated incident and we are aware of several other episodes of abusive and threatening behaviour towards pharmacy staff occurring across Northern Ireland in the past weeks”.

Cathy Harrison, chief pharmaceutical officer for Northern Ireland, tweeted that the incident had been “a terrifying experience for everyone involved”.


Mirfield, UK: Boots community pharmacist Adam Ahmed Patel has been hailed a hero after helping save the lives of two people.

In October Mr Patel received a phone call from a woman who had taken an overdose and shortly after regretted her decision, reports the Yorkshire Live.

The distressed woman called the pharmacy as she feared hospitals and emergency services were too busy to help given the pandemic.

He said: “It was the first call of the day, I had literally just walked in when the phone started ringing, she just kept saying I don’t want to die.

“I knew I had to keep her on the line, I managed to keep her calm and find out where she was located, she wasn’t local so I’m not sure why she came through to our pharmacy but I’m glad she did and I was able to help her,” he said.

The pharmacist managed to calm the woman down, find out what had happened and direct the paramedics to her address. Thankfully the woman survived the incident.

Meanwhile in January last year an elderly woman was brought into the pharmacy by her daughter displaying a rash and a headache.

The NHS worker, who has been a pharmacist for 25 years, instantly recognised the symptoms of the potentially fatal meningitis.

The pharmacist advised the woman to take her mother to emergency department immediately while he informed Dewsbury & District Hospital that a suspected meningitis patient was on the way.

Her grateful daughter later personally thanked Mr Patel.

“My mum was treated for meningitis and was in hospital for a few days. The consultant when talking to me praised the pharmacist for recognising and acting very quickly, most likely saving her life,” she said.


Dunedin, NZ: Discount pharmacy giant Chemist Warehouse was offered and declined the lease on a key George St site in inner-city Dunedin which will now be occupied by a competitor, reports the Otago Daily Times.

“We have been offered many sites,” said Chemist Warehouse Group New Zealand managing director Azman Haroon. “We just need to find the right one.”

The corner site has instead been leased by New Zealand discount chain Bargain Chemist, which is due to open there this month.

“We chose not to proceed with that site because it was not big enough,” Mr Haroon told Otago Daily Times.

“We generally have probably twice the size of what was offered.”

Chemist Warehouse has expanded rapidly since opening its first New Zealand store in 2017.

It had 19 stores trading in New Zealand and planned to open 15 more this year, said Mr Haroon.

Not everyone is happy with the surge in discount pharmacies across New Zealand.

Free prescriptions offered by discount pharmacy chains are driving some smaller pharmacies out of business, the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand has recently said.

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