As today marks World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021 and International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) is highlighting their longstanding campaign to end violence in pharmacies by reiterating calls for the whole sector to take proactive measures which reduce the risk of violence in the workplace. Consistently, in surveys of PDA members over the last three years, more than one-third of pharmacists do not feel safe for at least half of their time at work, and 20% reported not feeling physically safe for most, or any of the time.

Shocking CCTV footage released by the PDA today shows the extent of a recent attack on a pharmacist at their place of work, resulting in personal injury. On this occasion, the police were called, and action was taken. The footage can be found here. While this is an extreme case, unfortunately, attacks in the workplace are not rare occurrences. Worryingly, some pharmacists and their teams are still subjected to violence and abuse as part of their day-to-day experience at work while delivering NHS care.

Alison Jones, Director of Stakeholder Engagement at the PDA, said:

“Nobody should accept being abused, threatened or assaulted as part of their job, yet too often that is the attitude that has been able to develop. Every time violence has been accepted, and the aggressor has avoided any consequences to their actions, it has condemned colleagues to greater risk of reoccurrence. That is why the PDA is reiterating the call for zero tolerance and for the sector to take further steps to protect its workforce.”

Alison continued: “The shocking footage released by the PDA today is just one example of the incidents that pharmacists are reporting to our advice line. As well as a zero-tolerance approach, further steps are needed to prevent this from happening.” Organisations representing the employers of community pharmacists have supported the PDA’s call for a zero-tolerance policy, the PDA also welcomes the #ShopKind Campaign which sees organisations such as Asda, Boots, Morrison’s, Superdrug and Tesco sign up to encourage people returning to the high street to be mindful of the essential role that keyworkers have played during the coronavirus crisis.

The PDA is reiterating its focus for the pharmacy sector to work with them to secure the other four measures detailed in their policy, including proactive measures to reduce the risk of violence, calling on the government to help fund those measures and asking the regulator to ensure that all pharmacies are obliged to prevent violence as part of regulatory standards. The PDA believes that the whole sector and individual employers now need to double down and make sure that the public understands that there is a genuine zero tolerance of any form of violence in all community pharmacies. The PDA encourages pharmacists to display their zero tolerance of abuse in pharmacies posters, which are endorsed by the National

Police Chiefs Council, in their workplace. The PDA also wants any pharmacist that sees employers acting to the contrary of these stated commitments, to notify them immediately.

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