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COVID-19: Pharmacies must complete staff risk assessments in weeks

PSNC is “concerned about the higher COVID-19 risks identified for BAME individuals”
PSNC is “concerned about the higher COVID-19 risks identified for BAME individuals”

NHS England and Improvement has asked community pharmacy contractors to complete COVID-19 risk assessments for BAME employees and other at-risk groups in the next few weeks.

Employers must make “significant progress” in developing COVID-19 risk assessments for staff within “the next two weeks”, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) said in a letter last week (June 24).

NHSE&I set a deadline for these to be completed for “at-risk groups”, including black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff, within four weeks.

The letter asked employers to make the progress of their risk assessment work – including the number of assessments carried out, the percentage of the workforce given an assessment and the number of BAME risk assessments completed – “available to all staff”.

The letter contains links to resources for employers to use when risk-assessing their staff, and an annex highlighting examples of good practice. These included “creating a strategic risk stratification of the workforce, to target those at increased vulnerability first” and giving “clear direction that this is an organisational priority by the leadership team”.

Last week, a survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and UK Black Pharmacists Association (UK BPA) revealed that 70% of BAME pharmacists and pre-registration students had still not had access to “potentially lifesaving COVID-19 risk assessments”.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said last week (June 26) that it is “concerned about the higher COVID-19 risks identified for BAME individuals”.

“We support the need for these risk assessments, particularly for those people who are in more vulnerable groups,” it added.

PSNC director of operations and support Gordon Hockey said there is “urgent work for some to do”. The negotiating body is “discussing with NHSE&I the contractual implications of this work for community pharmacy”, he added.

Risk assessments were among seven recommendations detailed in a Public Health England report on the impact of COVID-19 on  black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups earlier this month (June 16).

5 Comments
Question: 
Have you completed a COVID-19 risk assessment?

Farhat Ahmed, Locum pharmacist

To be frank these assessmnets are the biggest load of baloney on the planet, my workplace is thoroughly risk assessed. There are not going to be many pharmacies out there that have not been risk assessed unless the owner or RP is a complete lunatic with their head in the clouds.

My staff are far more at risk contracting Covid 19 when they are out at the shops browsing the sales with the hoards or down the pub sat around for hours with a pint. You can guarantee however that the minute a member of staff contracts Covid 19 the bodies to be and probably the member of staff will try and blame the workpklace for their infected state. 

My workplace is most likely the safest place that my staff visit.

Maybe the bodies to be should send risk assessments to all pharmacy staf to assess the risk that they open themselves to outside of the workplace raher than in the workplace.

Anthony Chape, Community pharmacist

I've downloaded the toolkit and plan on looking at it through the week, and even on a quick look through, I'm beginning to think of some omissions in workplace activity that really does need adressing. I might not be able to achieve the change on my own, but with the pressure from the NHS to make some of the changes happen, I'm sure Pharmacy can become more aware and better enabled to deal with the sitution. We're having to learn a new way of being; is it not better to get to grips with it and lead, than have to try and pick up the pieces afterwards?

Anthony Chape, Community pharmacist

I've downloaded the toolkit and plan on looking at it through the week, and even on a quick look through, I'm beginning to think of some omissions in workplace activity that really does need adressing. I might not be able to achieve the change on my own, but with the pressure from the NHS to make some of the changes happen, I'm sure Pharmacy can become more aware and better enabled to deal with the sitution. We're having to learn a new way of being; is it not better to get to grips with it and lead, than have to try and pick up the pieces afterwards?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Last week, a survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and UK Black Pharmacists Association (UK BPA) revealed that 70% of BAME pharmacists and pre-registration students had still not had access to “potentially lifesaving COVID-19 risk assessments”.

For crying out loud - BAME pharmacists students and people generally are NOT thick!! I'm pretty sure that EVERYONE in the entire country now knows what the risks are of this virus, how it's transmitted, how to avoid that transmission and what to do if they display symptoms, especially if they are at higher risk of getting it (and most certainly if they are a pharmacist!!). What difference is a 'risk assessment' going to make?

bharat nathwani, Administration & Support

The PDA recently published a comprehensive risk-assessment toolkit for pharmacies and all pharmacy staff.  It is freely available to download and use.

It aligns with the NHS risk assessment framework developed by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine which recommends that workplace, workforce and individual assessments should be conducted.

https://www.the-pda.org/wp-content/uploads/Covid-19-Communiity-Pharmacy-Resource.pdf

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