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Community pharmacy has failed to report any cases of Covid-19 infection

By Isabel Shaw

06 Jul 2020

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has voiced concerns over a failure of community pharmacy employers to report incidences of Covid-19 infection.

This comes after a parliamentary question asked last week revealed that zero cases of Covid-19 in England had been reported to the Health and Safety Executive under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) by community pharmacy employers.

Hospitals reported 1,526 instances of Covid-19; GP practices reported 61 cases and prisons reported 4 cases.

Director of the PDA, Paul Day, said that the body found the possibility of no instances of Covid-19 occuring in community pharmacy to be ‘inconceivable’. The organisation suggested instead that some employers have ‘failed’ to meet reporting obligations.

Under RIDDOR, employers are legally obligated to report cases of employees who contracted or died from Covid-19 to HSE – if there is reasonable evidence to suggest they contracted the virus in the pharmacy.

He said: ‘If it is that community pharmacy employees have likely caught coronavirus at work and yet their employer has not reported this, it is shocking, and it raises further questions about the business behaviour of some community pharmacy companies.

‘We need to see what action, if any, the regulator will now take to get to the bottom of what the government has revealed.’

The PDA have called upon employers to ‘review where members of their team have had the virus and to properly report such instances without further delay, even if they have already missed the regulatory deadline for doing so’.

At the time of writing the Pharmacist is aware of at least four community pharmacy team members who died after contracting the virus.

Lord Kennedy, who asked the question in parliament last week, said he was ‘hugely surprised’ by the revelation that no cases of Covid-19 had been reported in community pharmacy.

‘We all know that GP practices have massively reduced interactions with patients, yet they have reported over 50 instances, whereas in dispensing chemists where activity has dramatically increased during the pandemic there has not been a single case reported. I am sure I am not alone in asking for an explanation as to how this happened,’ he added.

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