The Pharmacists Defence Association (PDA) has released survey results that show seven basic standards of pharmacy safety are regularly not being met and is demanding action to protect patients, pharmacists and the tax payer.

The PDA are concerned that while pharmacies are allowed to fail to meet these standards, it is pharmacists who are keeping patients safe by putting themselves into unsafe working conditions which places hard working health professionals and their careers into unreasonable levels of stress and risk.

Around 2,000 pharmacists responded to the survey and were asked in their direct recent experience how often the standards detailed in their Safer Pharmacies Charter were met. For each standard the pharmacists were asked if in their experience the standard was met:

  • None of the time (value = 1)
  • Minority of the time (value = 2)
  • Around half of the time (value = 3)
  • Most of the time (value = 4)
  • All of the time (value = 5)

This gave the PDA an average score for each standard detailed in the charter, with an overall score of 5.00 meaning the safety standard was always met and 1.00 meaning it was never met. The overall scores were as follows:

  1.  No Self Checking                                                              3.28
  2. Safe Staffing                                                                      2.85
  3. Access to a Pharmacist                                                     4.21
  4. Adequate Rest                                                                   2.62      
  5. Respect for Professional Judgement                                 3.16
  6. Raising Concerns                                                               2.66
  7. Physically Safe                                                                   3.53

Analysis of the survey showed significant detailed concerns such as more than half of respondents saying that they had adequate rest or were able to raise concerns less than half of the time. The survey results can be download here. Sample quotes from respondents can be found here.

Responsibility for safety sits with the pharmacy regulator and following the launch of the PDA’s Safer Pharmacy Charter last year a statement from the main UK pharmacy regulator, the GPhC, claimed that “The key points set out in the PDA’s charter reflect a number of the standards that we set for registered pharmacies and pharmacy professionals.These standards include making sure there are enough staff, suitably qualified and skilled, for the safe and effective provision of the pharmacy services provided, that staff can comply with their own professional and legal obligations, and that staff are empowered to raise concerns.”

Alima Batchelor, Head of Policy at PDA said: “We are disappointed that we have even had to produce a charter of such basic standards, but these survey results and feedback from pharmacists shows why it was needed. Our members are passionate about patient safety however these standards are not something they can directly control, employers need to do more and the regulators need to make sure that they do.”

The PDA has previous raised concerns about the GPhC’s lack of action against pharmacies and highlighted that although it had issued over 3,500 sanctions against individual registrants the GPhC had never issued any sanction for a failure to comply with the standards for registered pharmacies.
The PDA Safer Pharmacies Charter is already supported by Action against Medical Accidents, the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, the Labour Party and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW).  PDA are now calling on all pharmacy owners to sign up to the charter and ensure these safety standards are always met in their pharmacy and for the regulator to do more to make sure this happens.

Paul Day, Director of the PDA added: “These are basic things which patients would expect to be in place, yet this survey shows the standards in our charter, which the GPhC acknowledge reflect standards they also set, are not being met. This cannot continue and the regulator must ensure that every pharmacy, on every occasion, is meeting these safety standards.”

For more information about the PDA, please visit:


Alima Batchelor
Head of Policy at the PDA

Paul Day
Director of the PDA


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