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NPA’s ‘day of action’ must not compromise patient safety, warns PDA


NPA’s ‘day of action’ must not compromise patient safety, warns PDA

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association's director of pharmacy Jay Badenhorst has contacted the National Pharmacy Association's chief executive and chair to express concerns that its ‘day of action’ in protest at poor community pharmacy funding later this month could have serious ramifications for patient safety.

The NPA is mobilising its members to take part in a “day of protest” on June 20 in response to the Government’s lack of support for the sector when pharmacies will embark on a range of symbolic and practical measures. Those include turning out the lights out for a period, asking staff to wear black, blacking out the pharmacy’s windows and inviting candidates running in the general election to their pharmacies.

In a letter to NPA chief executive Paul Rees and chair Nick Kaye, Badenhorst (pictured) said although pharmacy’s union agreed in principle with the reasons for the ‘day of action,’ insisting the community pharmacy contractual framework failed to address “critical challenges such as funding cuts and increased workload,” patient safety must not be compromised.

Badenhorst said NPA members who turn out the lights could “potentially disrupt the safe and effective operation of the pharmacy,” by reducing “medicines, appliances and label visibility” and increasing patients’ risk of falling over.

“The inability to see patients’ details clearly when handing out medication could lead to dire consequences for patients and the responsible pharmacist (RP) on duty,” Badenhorst said.

“Patients trying to navigate the public area of the pharmacy in suboptimal lighting conditions could also be at greater risk of trips and falls.”

Badenhorst said although pharmacy owners may decide to participate in the 'day of action', the RP must be free to exercise their professional judgment and “should not be influenced by the proprietor or others employed by them.”

Badenhorst also said employee and locums “who are not party to the contractual dispute” between NPA members and NHS England should not be pressurised into taking part. “Employers must not unilaterally adjust pharmacists’ normal pay and working patterns to accommodate this activity,” he said. “Likewise, any existing agreements on locum pay for that day must be honoured in line with the contract for services.”

Badenhorst warned that although the ‘day of action’ consists of “symbolic actions,” some NPA members may not follow their guidance “resulting in closures of up to two hours.”

He also claimed the PDA found out about the ‘day of action’ through its membership and the media rather than from the NPA, who he said had failed to give the union “early information” which was “crucial for effective planning and representation.”

“We hope that in the future, we can maintain a more open line of communication to avoid such situations,” Badenhorst said.

NPA: Participating pharmacies should put patient and staff safety first

An NPA spokesperson told Independent Community Pharmacist it has discussed the issue with the PDA and made it clear to members that they must “put patient and staff safety first.”

“(Badenhorst’s) letter raises concerns over types of actions which we have never proposed and we’ve been clear that we don’t recommend stopping services,” the NPA spokesperson said.

“We are keen that PDA members feel able to join this action because it’s in all our interests to campaign for a thriving pharmacy sector. We are due to have further discussions with the PDA in the next few days and hope to work with them to allay any concerns their members might have.”

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