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Heed locums’ views as well as employers', PDA urges Scottish government

The Pharmacists' Defence Association has called on the Scottish government to engage in “effective dialogue” over “the voice of workers”, in a motion it will present at the Scottish Trade Unions Congress’ (STUC) Annual Congress. 

The motion – to be presented by the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) national officer for Scotland Paul Flynn – will be the first ever motion at the STUC “specifically pertaining to pharmacists”, according to Mr Flynn.

While the Scottish government has “met frequently” with representatives from pharmacy employers, “there has been significantly less engagement with trade unions representing the workforce”, the PDA argued.

The motion asks that the STUC congress – which will gather between April 25-27 – recognises that private pharmacy business owners “cannot legitimately claim to represent the rights and interests of the workforce they employ or engage”.

The views of those representing “the interests of private business owners” will deviate from the interests and views of employed and locum pharmacists, the PDA argued.

For example, private business owners might be seeking “increased investment in and cashflow for their business” and negotiations to improve “terms and other amendments to their contracts with government”, the PDA wrote in its motion.

Scotland's cabinet secretary for health and social care must therefore “ensure an effective dialogue with trade unions representing employed and locum pharmacists and other employees in the community pharmacy sector”, it added, “in line with the Fair Work Framework”.

C+D has approached the Scottish government for comment.


Pharmacies “exist to generate shareholder dividends”


While community pharmacy is playing an increasingly important role as the NHS encourages patients to visit their pharmacy as the first port of call, they are “nevertheless run for profit by companies and exist to generate shareholder dividends”, the PDA claimed in the motion.

The voice of pharmacy workers “needs to be heard independently to that of business owners”, the motion adds, particularly as “many pharmacists are self-employed locums and do not have an ‘employer’”.

It comes after the PDA called for health boards in Scotland to be given powers to “take over failing community pharmacies and absorb them into the NHS” in December, following rising reports of temporary pharmacy closures.


Flynn: Congress must recognise voice of pharmacists


Commenting on the motion, PDA director Paul Day told C+D that both employee and locum pharmacists and the businesses that employ or engage them “are important and should have their voices heard and their perspectives considered”.

But due to “historic reasons, often the government has only engaged with organisations who are there to further the interests of pharmacy business owners”, he claimed.

He added: “This issue is often consolidated by an incorrect impression that this means ‘pharmacists’ have been engaged in decision making, when in fact it is only representatives of 'shareholders' that have been involved.”

Current examples where the voice of employee and locum pharmacists “must be heard”, Mr Day said, include “training, keeping pharmacies open as agreed with the NHS,” and “individual pharmacists' role in vaccinations”.

Mr Flynn added: “Why systems have persisted for so long where the voice of those who will provide care directly have held no sway whatsoever should be a source of embarrassment for the Scottish executive.”

The PDA calls on congress “to recognise that individual pharmacists themselves have every right to a say in how they will best be able to serve their patients and communities”, he added.


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