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PDA to launch own ‘campaign’ after June 20 pharmacy lights out protest

The pharmacy union has revealed that it is now “supportive” of the upcoming June 20 protest action, despite previously raising safety concerns.  

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) has today (June 14) “confirmed that it will organise a supportive member-led campaign” following the protest action set to take place in pharmacies across the UK next week.

Last week (June 4), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) announced an “emergency” day of protest action on June 20 to “signify dark times for the beleaguered community pharmacy sector”.

It called on pharmacies across the UK to turn the lights out for a few hours, ask staff to wear black or black out windows, and use the day to engage with patients and parliamentary candidates.

But last Friday (June 7), the pharmacy union published an open letter to the NPA saying that employee and locum pharmacists “should not come under pressure to participate” and raising concerns around patient safety.

Now, after “recent discussions with the NPA”, the union has said it will support the “day of action” with a campaign focusing on “the impact upon patient safety and the extraordinary difficulties faced by community pharmacists” caused by “severe workload pressures” and “insufficient” funding.

A spokesperson for the union clarified to C+D that it is supportive of efforts to get more funding into community pharmacy but stressed that its campaign is separate and will take place at a later date.

 

NPA insurance to cover slips?

 

The union added that the NPA has “issued guidance to its members about how to ensure that there is no reduction in patient safety during any symbolic dimming of lights”.

C+D understands that the guidance lays out instructions to dim or turn off the lights in or outside pharmacies, but not in dispensaries or areas where people could trip as a result, between 9am and 11am on June 20.

It also understands that NPA Insurance will deal with claims made by patients or staff due to any slips, trips or falls that do occur when pharmacy lights are turned off on the day.

Earlier this week, the NPA told C+D that pharmacies taking part “should put patient and staff safety first”, stressing that this point “is clearly made in the guidance…issued to NPA members”.

 

NPA “recognised” RP authority

 

The union today said that following the discussions, the NPA has “recognised that the authority of the responsible pharmacist (RP) must be taken into consideration”.

The membership body also “clarified that this campaign will not impact detrimentally upon the contractual arrangements such as working hours for any employee or locum pharmacists,” it said. 

“The NPA will make clear to its members what can be done and what shouldn’t be done as part of the campaign at its members’ events,” the PDA added.

Meanwhile, the NPA last week stressed that it was “not currently in a position to recommend strike action” after taking “legal advice”.

“We would be reluctant to support any action that impairs patient care, but we understand the level of anger that has led to calls for strike action,” it added.

Last month, pharmacists across France left the dispensing counter to strike over funding, closures and drug shortages.

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