The Pharmacist Defence Association (PDA) has formally written to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) with their concerns about the failure of community pharmacy employers to report any instances of likely exposure to the coronavirus in the workplace.
The PDA has said that they are seriously concerned that there appears to be a ‘failure’ of Community Pharmacy employers to appropriately report instances of exposure to COVID in the workplace.
The PDA have previously highlighted these issues.
- In April, the PDA welcomed the guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
- In May, the PDA raised concerns that it seemed some employers in community pharmacy were not meeting those reporting requirements.
- In early July, the PDA highlighted that a parliamentary question had revealed despite reporting happening from employers in other parts of the health system, there had been zero reports from community pharmacy.
- Later in July, the PDA reported results of a survey in which four in ten pharmacists who had caught the coronavirus believed they had been exposed in the workplace.
The PDA have said that in the absence of any change of approach by community pharmacy employers and with no indication of any action being taken by the regulator the PDA has now formally raised their concerns.
Commenting within the letter PDA Director Paul Day said:
“As with health professionals in other sectors, throughout the lockdown period Community Pharmacists, and their teams will have been following social distancing and government guidelines outside of work to minimise the risk of catching coronavirus and avoiding contact with others. Most interactions with people from outside their household will, therefore, have been while they were at work, spending time with colleagues and patients in what are often cramped pharmacy workspaces. Community pharmacy is a high contact environment, and this is not just our description as the largest community pharmacy employer recently announced that it was joining a pilot to evaluate the effectiveness of testing for people without symptoms of COVID-19 who work in “high-contact” jobs.
“Confidence in community pharmacy employers properly discharging their duties regarding the health and safety of patients and employees is fundamental. The responsibility lies clearly with employers and the absence of any notifications whatsoever for work acquired COVID infections in the community sector must cast significant doubt on compliance with these strict obligations.
“All five principles set out in the “Standards for Registered Pharmacies” identify safeguarding “the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public” as the objective; employers and the regulator have no hesitation in holding individuals to account for any failure to comply with legal and professional obligations. It is therefore incumbent on the GPhC to investigate further the unexplained and complete absence of work acquired COVID infection reporting by community pharmacy employers.”
“We would be grateful if you would confirm what action, if any, the GPhC will take with regard to this situation and I look forward to hearing from you. We have copied this letter to the CEOs of the main community pharmacy employer representative bodies.”
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