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Multiples call for plastic bag charge exemption

Practice Patient privacy would be threatened if pharmacies were not exempt from the proposed plastic bag charge, multiples have warned

Multiples have warned against fully applying the government's proposed 5p plastic bag charge to pharmacies in England, but have disagreed on the level of exemption.  

Lloydspharmacy vowed to push for all pharmacy goods to be exempt from the charges, due to come in from 2015. Superdrug's concerns centred on prescription items, while the Co-operative Pharmacy voiced support for a similar system to Wales, where medicines and pharmaceutical appliances are exempt.  

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced plans to introduce a mandatory plastic bag charge at the Liberal Democrat party conference, held from September 14-18. The charge will apply to businesses with more than 250 employees, which will be expected to donate the proceeds to charity.


Carrier bags may be "blighting our towns and countryside", according to Nick Clegg, but multiples have said free supply protects patients' privacy

More on plastic bag charges

Pharmacies in Wales escape plastic bag charge   

Plastic bag charge set to benefit the environment

Multiples unite against WAG plastic bag charge plans

Mr Clegg said plastic bags were "blighting our towns and countryside" and highlighted that introducing charges in Ireland, Wales and Switzerland had led to an 80 per cent decrease in carrier bag use.  

Lloydspharmacy urged the government to ensure all pharmacies were exempt from the charge. It said that supplying plastic bags for prescription items was "a fundamental aspect of patient privacy" and said the same principle could apply to other items.


"We will press for a blanket exception for all products sold in community pharmacies, as patient privacy is also important for many OTC products," it told C+D.  

Superdrug also vowed to press for some form of pharmacy exemption and stressed that all NHS patients should be treated equally "wherever they pick up their prescription".  

But Janice Perkins, superintendent pharmacist at the Co-operative Pharmacy, highlighted that the introduction of a plastic bag charge in Wales in 2011 had gone smoothly and business impact had been "minimal".  

"We believe this was largely thanks to staff training, because the change was clearly highlighted in pharmacies in advance, and because the Welsh government also ran a successful public information campaign," she told C+D.  

Boots said it was unable to comment until the draft legislation came through.  

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said it would discuss exemptions for pharmacy with the sector; it estimates that more than 7 billion carrier bags were handed out in supermarkets in England alone in 2012.


England was the last country in the UK to agree on a mandatory plastic bag charge. Wales and Northern Ireland already have a charge in place, and Scotland is due to implement a similar system next year.



Privacy versus the environment: should pharmacy goods be subject to a plastic bag charge in England?

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12 Comments

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

I agree with the suggestion that patients can re-use bags or pay for new ones. I don't see how this is going to impact on patient privacy, it's already happening in some supermarkets and our patients already shop there, so not an alien concept!

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

I don't see how patients' privacy is compromised. They can still bring their own bags, or pay for ones that are given out by the pharmacy if they want to retain confidentiality. Why do we have to give everything away? Don't the turtles still choke on pharmacy bags?

David Webb, Locum pharmacist

Why not use the same "recyclable bag" idea as per the supermarkets? If you know that you're going to be taking half the Pharmacy with you, then you know you can avoid extra cost (& still not miss out) by bringing that with you when you come to collect. Aust & SA have had mandatory charges on plastic carry bags for years and I know nobody has died from it...especially the marine life.

Snowfire 42, Locum pharmacist

Everybody wants to safeguard their own corner,'not in my backyard motto.

max falconer, Superintendent Pharmacist

Perhaps if we are going to give out patients meds without bags, so that all the world can see what they are receiving, we could get rid of I.G.at the same time as it will be redundant!?!? If so I'm all for a ban on bags

Prafulkumar Soneji, Locum pharmacist

Excuse my ignorance, but what is I.G.?

Matthew Howard, Community pharmacist

(what used to be data protection, confidentiality etc etc)
Safeguardig patient and personal information...

Matthew Howard, Community pharmacist

Information Governance

MICHAEL PARKER, Pharmaceutical Adviser

What happened to paper ?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Paper bags sounds like an excellent idea. Protects privacy, the environment, low costing and is recyclable.

Daniel Fox, Community pharmacist

Isn't it funny that when it comes to corporate social responsibility, such as a donation to protect our environment, Lloyds pharmacy is the first company that finds an excuse to avoid that under the argument of patient privacy? Can't really stop laughing, but just sounds typical again. De ja vu!!

MESUT OZIL,

Lets boycott lloyds!!!!

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