More than one in 10 pharmacists have been asked to re-use PPE at some point during the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey from the Pharmacists’ Defence Association suggests, with a similar proportion saying their employer has “actively discouraged” them from wearing protective equipment.
The PDA surveyed 745 pharmacists from June 25, most of whom work in a community pharmacy setting. The survey had a particular focus on the experience of BAME pharmacists during the Covid-19 crisis.
In the survey, 12 per cent said their employer had encouraged them not to wear PPE, while 13 per cent had been asked to re-use PPE. Five per cent said they had not been given any PPE by their employer, and 40 per cent said they had not received any training on the correct use of PPE.
These issues may have been more prevalent early on in the pandemic; the PDA told Pharmacy Network News it has "received no recent cases of employers still asking pharmacists not to wear PPE at work".
Issues were also raised around social distancing, with 70 per cent saying their employer enforced distancing between staff and patients and only 46 per cent saying distancing between staff members was maintained.
Employers appear to be performing poorly on Covid-19 risk assessments, with less than half of respondents reporting assessments had been carried out for premises, individual pharmacists or pharmacy teams.
GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin said earlier this week that the regulator was prepared to investigate any allegations of employers failing to conduct risk assessments.
Six per cent of pharmacists said they had overheard colleagues making derogatory comments about someone’s ethnicity. While a majority of these cases were reportedly handled well by employers, 32 per cent said the response had been poor or ‘barely acceptable’.
PDA head of policy Alima Batchelor commented on the survey findings: “The PDA are pleased with the response rom BAME members but we can see that there is much work to be done around managing risk in pharmacy and in terms of addressing discrimination.
“These issues in the workplace are active issues in which the PDA is representing the concerns of pharmacists and we are working to improve conditions at work. The responses to the survey will help inform our activity.”