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No CCA member has signed safer pharmacies charter four years after launch


No CCA member has signed safer pharmacies charter four years after launch

By Neil Trainis

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has revealed that no Company Chemists’ Association members have signed up to its safer pharmacies charter more than four years after it was launched in the House of Commons.

The Charter, which was endorsed at its unveiling in December 2017 by the then shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, contains seven standards which the PDA has regularly urged pharmacy owners and senior managers to adhere to.

These include no self-checking, safe staffing, access to a pharmacist, adequate rest, respect for professional judgment, raising concerns and physical safety.

PDA director Paul Day told Independent Community Pharmacist that thousands of pharmacists and “several national organisations” had registered their support for the Charter but “sadly only a few pharmacies (such as) pharmacy businesses" had done so.

He said the "thousands of pharmacists" did not include pharmacy owners but "employed and locum pharmacists."

No-one from the CCA, whose members include Boots, LloydsPharmacy, Rowlands, Well, Superdrug, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, has signed up to it so far.

“None of the CCA members have yet promised to maintain what are seven very basic safety standards by adopting the charter, but they are welcome and invited to do so,” Mr Day said.

“We believe that ensuring safe staffing levels and the other basic commitments of the safer pharmacies charter are met all the time by CCA members would not only make pharmacies safer in the short term, but this would be an important step towards once again making jobs in pharmacy attractive to those on the register which may help fix the recruitment challenges these employers currently face.”

Mr Day’s revelations came just a few days after publication of the PDA’s 2021 safer pharmacies survey which highlighted what it described as “an almost universal worsening” in pharmacy working conditions. The study revealed many PDA members felt unsafe at work, were unable to raise concerns with senior management and did not have adequate rest breaks.

When asked why none of its members had adopted the Charter’s standards, CCA CEO Malcolm Harrison told ICP that even though it agreed "in principle with much" of the Charter, it does "not recognise the PDA as an authority on matters of pharmacy safety".

"We believe that pharmacy owners and the employers of pharmacists must have the freedom to choose how they will deliver a safe and secure working environment for their people," Mr Harrison said, insisting the CCA and its members "take the safety and wellbeing of pharmacy teams very seriously."

"We wholeheartedly agree with the principle of ensuring that all pharmacies are safe places to work and that all employees should be made to feel safe. Our members make every effort to ensure that their employees, patients and customers are provided with a safe and secure environment, wherever they operate," he said.

Harrison commended the PDA for its work on the Charter but insisted it failed "to cover anything that isn’t already being addressed, either through our joint work with the police, the BRC (British Retail Consortium) or through adequate legislation and regulation.”

The National Pharmacy Association said it did not know how many of its members have signed up to the Charter. ICP has asked the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies how many of its members have signed up.

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