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Due to the rise in reported violent and unacceptable behaviour by patients, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has issued a ‘zero tolerance’ poster for display in community pharmacies and has also raised the issue with the Home Office.

Employer action needed

Aggressive patient behaviour was already experienced before the COVID-19 crisis began and the zero tolerance of abuse measure is part of a long-running campaign by the PDA to end violence in pharmacy. However, given the increase in incidents, the PDA is now calling on pharmacy employers to implement the Violence in Pharmacy policy and let patients know that this is their position.

Employers have a strict legal duty to protect the health and safety of their staff at work, and while blame for any incident sits firmly with the abuser/assailant, employers nevertheless need to do all they can to prioritise the safety of their employees by seeking to prevent incidents as well as acting appropriately if they do still occur.

Law enforcement

In addition to calling on employers to act, the PDA has also written to Home Secretary Priti Patel, calling for government support to raise the issue and take whatever measures are necessary to protect pharmacists, their teams and other patients from abuse and assault. The PDA believes that more awareness and support from the police and firm penalties in the courts for those who assault pharmacists is essential.

Previously, the PDA lobbied to ensure that community pharmacists are in the scope of the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018, which makes tougher penalties possible.

The PDA has already successfully engaged a number of police forces (read more) in supporting their campaign to end violence in pharmacies, including working with Police & Crime Commissioners to recognise and take action on the situation in community pharmacy.

Posters

The PDA has released a poster emphasising zero tolerance of abuse in pharmacies which it encourages all members to print and display in their pharmacy. The awareness of this policy is key if patient behaviour is to be influenced.

For more information, visit: www.the-pda.org/violence-in-pharmacy.

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