In a statement last week (October 31), the PDA said it has received a number of reports from pharmacists employed at multiples claiming that the branches they work in have decided to withdraw the provision of security guards in “what appears to be cost-saving measures”.
“Our members are saying to us that they think security guards are being removed or talked about being removed because of cost-saving,” PDA director Paul Day confirmed to C+D yesterday (November 3).
A the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, there were reports of an increase in abusive and aggressive behaviour from patients – including verbal and physical assaults – towards pharmacy teams.
In last week’s statement, the PDA said pharmacists are telling the union that they are “concerned that their personal safety and that of their staff is being placed at risk” as a result of the removal of security guards in certain multiples’ branches.
Security measures are “vital at some locations, particularly midnight pharmacies operating in isolated locations where pandemic measures have impacted on the wider security environment”, the PDA said in the statement.
“Although technology and local initiatives can enhance staff security through remote monitoring, these are less effective if urgent assistance is required,” it added.
Any decision on guarding resources should only be made following a “thorough risk assessment” and discussions with staff whose safety could be at risk without these measures being in place, the PDA said.
“If you want to remove a security guard, communicate with the pharmacists and the rest of the team and explain how the risk is no longer there,” Mr Day told C+D.
“Exposing pharmacists, their teams and patients to unacceptable risks in the workplace cannot be based on cost-saving measures,” the PDA said in its statement.
Safety in pharmacies a “priority”
The PDA has long campaigned to put a stop to violence in pharmacies and has previously called for a “zero-tolerance” approach to abuse of pharmacists and pharmacy teams to be adopted by the multiples.
“Safety must always be a priority,” Mr Day said. “We don’t want to find members that are subject to assault or risk of violence because security measures have been taken away purely for cost-cutting [reasons],” he added.