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Mother recovering from dog attack shamed for not wearing a face mask at Snodland pharmacy despite being exempt

A woman recovering from painful surgery to reattach her nose after a dog attack says a trip to the pharmacy left her 'in tears' after staff refused to serve her for not wearing a face mask.

Shereen Mawson from West Malling has spent the last two weeks at home recovering from the incident which has caused extremely painful and visible injuries to her face.

The scar left on Shereen Mawson's nose makes it hard for her to wear a mask
The scar left on Shereen Mawson's nose makes it hard for her to wear a mask

Warning: there are graphic images in this article

The 36-year-old says her nose is still so sore, it is difficult to wear a face covering without being in a lot of pain and is currently exempt for medical reasons.

In need of medication, last Wednesday the mother-of-four walked to Catts Pharmacy in Snodland but instead of leaving with painkillers, she left feeling anxious and embarrassed.

Miss Mawson said: "I walked into the shop and one of the ladies literally shouted at me to get out because I didn't have a mask on.

"I said I’m really sorry and I tried to explain to her why I couldn't wear one. My stitches are so visible and she was just so rude I couldn't believe it.

"She went to her manager and he also refused to let me in but he didn't even come and see me.

Catts Pharmacy, Catts Alley, Snodland. Picture: Google Street View
Catts Pharmacy, Catts Alley, Snodland. Picture: Google Street View

"Then the member of staff said she could serve me outside and I said okay that’s absolutely fine. When she found out I was paying by card she then refused me again and at that point I became so overwhelmed I literally bawled my eyes out. I was in tears and ended up having a panic attack outside because I was so embarrassed."

The pharmacy run by Paydens has apologised and launched an investigation into the incident but disagrees with any claims staff were rude.

Miss Mawson added: "Given what my nose looks like at the minute I didn't really want to go out in the first place but I was in so much pain I had to. I’m a quiet person and I have serious anxiety so for that to happen it really knocked my confidence.

"I wish I could wear a face mask because I understand how important they are but I physically can't have any pressure on it, even the wind blowing on it is quite painful."

She added: "I’ve not left my house since that Wednesday. I’ve been sending the kids out to do stuff and even just going to the shops to get food I’m hesitant and would rather wait until someone comes to help me."

Shereen Mawson from West Malling needed surgery on her nose after a dog attack
Shereen Mawson from West Malling needed surgery on her nose after a dog attack

The incident with the dog attack happened two weeks ago while Miss Mawson was walking around Leybourne Lakes Country Park with her friend.

Looking back on the ordeal Miss Mawson, who runs a horse livery yard and rescues animals for a living, said: "My friend's dog had been attacked by another dog which wasn't on its lead so I ran over to help my friend clean his wounds and that's when it happened.

"As I tilted his head to look at the puncture wound I must have hurt him and he bit out.

"People have said he should be put down but I've know that dog for years and know he didn't do it on purpose, it was just a quick snap reaction."

Miss Mawson says the recent events have knocked her confidence so much, she now finds it difficult to leave the house.

Since writing to Paydens, Miss Mawson said she is happy with how the company has handled the complaint so far and is pleased they are looking into her claims.

A spokesperson for Paydens said: “Catts Pharmacy are sorry this customer found our service unsatisfactory, in these unprecedented times our front line staff are working extremely hard to do their best for all our patients.

"Following a government announcement, from July 24, there has been a legal requirement for any visitor to a shop to wear a face covering. Whilst there are exemptions from wearing face coverings for certain individuals, our company policy advises staff that any customer not wearing a face covering, whether exempt or not, should be politely asked to wait outside the premises and we will attend to them at the door.

"The reason for this is that despite being exempt from wearing a face covering, we need to protect our staff and other members of the public using our pharmacies. Many of the customers visiting pharmacies are vulnerable and need to feel safe whilst in enclosed spaces, and in particular, in healthcare environments. Face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus.

"Our initial investigations into the complaint so far have highlighted a difference in the way this event has been reported and the pharmacy refute any claims that they were rude to the patient.”

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