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The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) have written a joint letter to Health and Social Care Secretary,  Matt Hancock, calling on him to facilitate tripartite discussion between government, community pharmacy employer representatives and the trade unions to agree safe working practices across the sector. 

With increasing strains on PPE supplies and especially after the Prime Minister’s announcement of changes to the lockdown rules in England, the two bodies have said that urgent discussions are needed to consider in much more detail the question of how the safety of staff working in community pharmacies can be maintained. 

Many community pharmacies have significant challenges with establishing social distancing for safe working in a service that requires most members of the team to be in close proximity to patients. Employees, locums and patients all need to know that community pharmacy is a safe place. 

As is normal with NHS employers and across many sectors of industry, the legitimate representatives of employers and employees should sit down with government to agree acceptable arrangements going forward.   

‘We are delighted to be working closely with USDAW,’ said PDA Chairman, Mark Koziol. ‘Our knowledge of pharmacy and their experience of retail settings is a powerful voice for the whole pharmacy team.  

‘There are a plethora of organisations in pharmacy and each has a role to play.  It is critical however that the conversation about health and safety in the workplace involves the right stakeholders. It must be those who have proven expertise and a legitimate mandate under employment legislation.   

‘The views of employees, as represented by independent trade unions needs to be in the heart of those discussions. If the pharmacy team still feel unsafe at work it will be us they come to for advice and it will be us that will potentially support claims against employers.’

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