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Pharmacist launches petition in wake of Martin White case

Pam Adams: Another pharmacist has been made into a criminal by a tragic mistake.

An online petition launched in the wake of the Martin White case has already amassed more than 1,000 signatures.

Northern Irish pharmacist Mr White was handed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, last week (December 16) for giving a 67-year-old woman the wrong medication in the hours before her death in 2014.

Pam Adams, an NHS pharmacist from Gloucestershire, set up her petition the week before the sentencing, and claimed Mr White's case showed "another pharmacist has been made into a criminal by making a tragic mistake".

Ms Adams said she drew from her experience of “27 years in the NHS” for her petition, addressed to NHS England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge, in which she calls for pharmacists to "stop being criminalised for being human".

Ms Adams added: “Pharmacists, doctors and nurses all face long hours, understaffing, relentless demand and pressure to work through breaks. Criminal prosecution and sentencing is not the way to help the NHS learn from errors and improve healthcare.”

The government's ongoing initiative to remove the threat of criminal prosecution for pharmacists and staff who make an inadvertent dispensing error has suffered years of delays. On Monday, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society told C+D it is still 100% committed to decriminalising dispensing errors.

Online outcry

At time going to press, the petition had accrued more than 1,030 signatures, and hundreds of comments. Here are some examples:

Kirstie Myles from Yate: “I am a pharmacist and the pressure we are under is huge. This is an unfair result for Martin, who was only trying to do his best.”

Charlene Stewart from Glengormley: “I am a working pharmacist, and the pressures – especially in community pharmacy – due to understaffing and cutbacks, are simply not acceptable. Mistakes will happen.”

Paul Adams from Charlton Kings: “I am a pharmacist working in the NHS. We are told that to learn from our mistakes we have a no-blame culture. This is not compatible with the threat of prosecution for human error.”

Tracey Kime-Warren from Perthshire: “Errors should not be criminalised. Companies that expect their pharmacists to work without breaks and adequate support staff should be.”

Ishbel Thomson: “For a professional, making a mistake is devastating. Criminalising such a mistake is statutory vindictiveness.”

You can view the petition here.  

Do you agree with the petition?

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

I did wonder whether leaving the EU would improve the dire situation in Community pharmacy in this country...I have a feeling it might be, I certainly hope so....Regarding this petition, as well meaning as it is I doubt also whether it would have much impact...The much larger funding cuts petition in summer didnt seem to have any influence, and unfortunately this probably wont either. Regarding work place stresses, I attended the GPHC organised conference on this subject a few months back...Its all gone rather quiet since. I have yet to hear or read about any concrete strategies  to deal with dispenasry pressures....and yes we are talking mainly about increased volumes of checking alongside the expectation of additional services with less staff....Whistleblowing was also discussed, but in my view its not going to happen. For  an employee Pharmacist to report unfair pressures placed upon them by employers they risk losing their jobs in a tough jobs market and potential livelihoods..So the "bullying" by some employers continues unabated...

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

An accurate and honest analysis Mr Sankar. 

The truth in this country is that, like the States, Big Pharma controls the Pharmacy sector here in the UK and consequently, its workers. The Qualified professionals are no longer calling the shots.

The TTIP deals that were being pushed through last year by Obama/Hillary where in fact designed to bridge the gap between the North American market and the European market for US big pharma. Corporations do not want to deal with 51 different European countries, they want to take over all markets in one go, hence why the EU is expanding its membership to 2nd and 3rd rate European countries. 

Here in the UK we already have the American Walgreens looming over us especially with their Boots and ASDA takeovers....don’t think they are separate companies. These same Big Pharma are the lobbyists and special interest groups in the EU which have coincidently set up all laws in their favour making it harder for independents to survive. 

We have a corrupt millionaire political class in this country Giana Miller MP and co. deliberately trying to thwart a Brexit, and you have to ask yourself why they are so desperate to keep us all in. 


We need to make sure the political class in dedicated to a rock hard Brexit with complete withdrawal from the EEA as well. Pharmacists need to get behind this with full strength don't trust the establishment and the C and D which I have noticed simply act as its mouth piece, couldn't believe the pro Bremain stance that this publication has been taking for some time.  

Han Solo MPharm The coolest pharmacist in the galaxy , Locum pharmacist

A petition is not going to help I’m afraid. You all need to think outside the box. This problem is a lot bigger than you think and a petition is not going to even make a scratch. This is a political problem and thus this requires a political solution.

This unfortunate circumstance has occurred because a pharmacist was overworked in what we all suspect to be unreasonable working conditions. Unreasonable working conditions have arisen because big pharma wants to make more profit…even at the expense of a qualified professional, this is done by cutting staff, imposing more workload.

At the same time we see pharmacy cuts affecting independents, it is the independents that are closing down…no body is closing down the multiples.  This is big pharma take over, corporate takeover of the pharmacy profession in the UK.

Why is this happening?

This is happening because the EU laws are specifically written in favour of big Pharma. This destroys smaller competitors and in turn creates a big pharma/ multiple monopoly over the UK/European pharmacy market.


By leaving the EU you can ensure a better market for competing independents. There were too many uninformed pharmacists that believe the EU is a wonderful thing. When in fact it is the source to all our professional problems.

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

All too late now anyway but I see your point.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

While I don't agree with criminilisation of dispensing errors. Well we get into new territory in the court of public opinion, and ask your average Sun reader, white van man or chav and then they will argue if someone in their family was injured or died due to a dispensing error. Unfortunately the reply will be ofcourse they should be prosecuted and that they were lucky that he did not get sent down for it too.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I suspect the innate and permanent nature of human error does not enter the minds of those whom we might consider to be the unthinking mob. Nor would the use of error rate probabilities in the attempt to achieve equity in law.

As with anything in life, you must decide who you think is fit to be your judge and so be discerning in the opinions you hold with respect. As this country becomes slowly more ill-educated, bigoted and uncultured, the more discerning you will have to be. This of course does not help the pharmacist in question in any material way, I do feel for him. 

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Typical Sun readers would probably ask for hanging to return knowing that many Community pharmacists are from a 'certain' demographic.

DAVID MACRAE, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

I agree with everything said, and support this petition wholeheartedly.....
Keith Ridge should use his influence to expedite swift change to this unjust law. 
As a community pharmacist, I'm extremely concerned that with the further financial strangulation of community pharmacy's ability to provide service, we will see more unnecessary mistakes and their terrible consequences. 
I further call upon Keith Ridge to show loyalty to his profession by supporting the reversal of the financial cuts to the  sector until a package is agreed which provides fair and reasonable remuneration reflecting the reality of the complexities and pressures of providing pharmaceutical services in the community. 
I would further suggest his support for  a NEW LAW which prevents community pharmacies in the UK from being owned by anyone other than practicing pharmacists. 
NOT accountants, NOT bankers and fund managers, NOT faceless, money laundering, tax dodging, corporations. ONLY PHARMACISTS care for the advancement of our long established profession per se, the others simply use it to serve their own agendas, and we all know what that leads to !

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

David, that is the best proposal I've heard in a long time! Wholeheartedly agree, pharmacists should own pharmacies, not profit-making bunch of corporates who have the interests of their employees and patients at the bottom of their profit spreadsheet, if at all on the spreadsheet! About time this kind of non-professional interference is challenged.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

That is a fair argument to restrict ownership to pharmacists

A Long Serving Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Why is the petition in Spanish?


N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

May be they want to take this case to the European court :-)) ;-))

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