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PDA: Multiples remove security guards in apparent ‘cost-saving’

PDA: Pharmacists and their teams should not be exposed to risks as a result of cost-cutting
PDA: Pharmacists and their teams should not be exposed to risks as a result of cost-cutting

Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) members have flagged concerns that multiples are withdrawing security guards from branches in cost-cutting moves, the organisation has said.

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.

 “Vital” protection

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.   

Do you feel a need for a security presence in your pharmacy?

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

The absolute dumbest thing a locum or employee pharmacist can ever do is chase a thief.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Totally agree Benie - the one time I ever tried this, the person concerned revealed the knife up his sleeve. If a company can't be bothered to look after their own stuff I can't think of a single valid reason why I should.

Snake Plissken, Student

Very true! I’m not sure how much money the multiple are saving though.

The problem also is that the first you know of anything is if the fire alarm has gone off as they make their escape after emptying the shelves or a customer comes and tells you. With minimal staff at these chemists and being so busy, you don’t have time to notice things being stolen from right under your nose. 


Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

If I worked at a pharmacy that did this I would quite contentedly watch someone strip the shelves bare before I would intervene.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

At barely staffed premises, no one notices the missing stock until cashing up at the end of the day...

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

I'm curious. What would you do or say on confronting this person.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Nothing. I would hold the door open for them to leave - it isn't my stuff to protect and if the company concerned won't pay to protect it I'm damned sure I wouldn't risk my pretty face to do it, not with all the drugged up whack-jobs there are around nowadays. Still, I'm past the point of no return now, so it's not my problem to deal with, and at the end of this year my name will be changing to Happy Ex-Pharmacist!

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