People who are experiencing domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic can walk into any Boots branch in the UK from today (May 1) and ask the pharmacist if they can use the consultation room.
Once inside the room, “all the specialist domestic abuse support information will be available” and if the person needs to contact a domestic abuse support service, they can “make that call safely”, according to the website set up for the campaign.
The initiative is a partnership between Hestia – a charity offering support to victims of domestic abuse and modern slavery and those with mental health needs – and Boots. It is supported by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
Any pharmacy can join
Any pharmacy in the UK can join the initiative, and more information about which steps to take to do so is available on the campaign website, including social media promotion suggestions and a campaign toolkit.
NPA policy manager Helga Mangion said the organisation encourages “all pharmacies to support charitable and official initiatives that help people experiencing domestic abuse to get support.”
“We hope that many pharmacies will consider using their consultation rooms as a safe space, in the way that Boots and some independent pharmacies have already chosen to do,” she added.
However, the NPA “recognises the extraordinary strain that pharmacies are already under, and that this is by no means a straightforward matter”, she added.
Sector bodies back campaign
The GPhC also encourages all pharmacies to take part in the scheme. Chief executive Duncan Rudkin said that although pharmacies are very busy at this time, “participating in this scheme is another important way in which they can safeguard vulnerable people”.
“Pharmacies are in the frontline in supporting the healthcare needs of patients and the public during the COVID 19 pandemic in the community and are one of the few places that are open to people who may need help,” he added.
The RPS is also encouraging pharmacies to participate, and president Sandra Gidley said it is “as simple as making your consultation room available for a phone call to the relevant agency who can help”.
“A quick, simple action which could literally save a life,” she added.
The UK has seen a rise in domestic abuse since the COVID-19 lockdown, with Hestia reporting a 47% increase in victims contacting the charity through its Bright Sky domestic abuse support app.