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GPhC: Pharmacy owners should offer locums COVID-19 risk assessments

Pharmacy contractors should treat locums as their own employees when it comes to risk assessments, General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) chief executive Duncan Rudkin has said.

As businesses, pharmacy owners have “responsibilities to anybody attending” their premises, including employees and self-employed locums, Mr Rudkin said in a session on COVID-19 risk assessments at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) annual conference yesterday (July 15).  

Contractors should therefore “not be treating them [locums] differently when it comes to risk assessments,” he added.

“Whether or not they’re your employees, they are workers in your environment. There is at least a public liability obligation and, I think, more widely an obligation to make a safe working environment for locums as well as for your own staff,” he said. .

When questioned later in the session on whether locums should carry out their own risk assessments for COVID-19, Mr Rudkin said employees “have an individual duty to take care of their own care and safety and that of others who may be affected by their actions at work,”. Tt would be a “good idea to encourage self-employed locums to assess their own intrinsic risk”, he said.

However, this should “sit alongside environmental and workplace-related risk [assessments]” carried out by “the owner of the pharmacy and those involved in managing and leading that pharmacy”, he added.

GPhC inspectors will “challenge” employers if they “find evidence that risk assessments are not taking place or not being done appropriately”, he said.

As well as keeping staff and patients safe, risk assessments are an “essential way of documenting” that contractors are meeting both their “legal obligations” and their “regulatory obligations under the GPhC standards”, Mr Rudkin added.

Last month (June 24), NHS England and Improvement set a deadline for COVID-19 risk assessments to be completed for “at-risk groups”, including black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff, within four weeks.

Risk assessments were among seven recommendations detailed in a Public Health England report on the impact of COVID-19 on BAME groups earlier last month (June 16).

Royal Pharmaceutical Society survey that ran between June 12 and 22 revealed that 70% of BAME pharmacists and pre-registration students had not yet been given access to “potentially lifesaving COVID-19 risk assessments”.

What do you make of Mr Rudkin's comments?

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