A pharmacy union has drawn up a charter to protect patients.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) created its seven point charter with the help of its members.

Launching its charter today (6 December), the PDA said: ‘Keeping patients safe is key to the role of every pharmacist. But less than safe working conditions risk harm to patients as well as damaging consequences for pharmacists – such as impacting on their physical or  mental health.’

It said the seven commitments in the charter should be ‘standard practice’ for pharmacies and urged owners and managers to adopt it for their businesses.

The charter said there should be no self-checking of prescriptions. Instead, a suitably trained and competent staff member should be available to do an independent check.

Adequate training

There should be enough staff available so pharmacies can meet their legal, contractual and regulatory responsibilities

‘All staff must be suitably trained and competent to carry out the pharmacy work they are involved in,’ said the PDA.

Pharmacists must be available while the pharmacy is open for patients to get expert face-to-face advice about medicines.

Bosses should make sure patients get access to pharmacists, it said.

The charter also said pharmacists should get adequate rest and breaks so they are alert at work. It is essential they get their statutory and regulatory breaks, plus any extra time, it added.

Their professional judgment should also be respected, said the PDA.

Maintaining professional autonomy

The union said they ‘should be enabled and encouraged to exercise professional decision-making in the workplace so that patient safety and professional standards can be placed above any commercial or other operational considerations.’

It said that targets should not inhibit professional autonomy.

Pharmacists should also be safe at work and ‘will not work in the pharmacy alone’.

There should be a zero-tolerance approach to any violence towards pharmacists and her colleagues.

The charter also called for pharmacists to be able to raise concerns at work ‘without fear or reprisal’.

There should be a ‘supportive, open and receptive organisational culture’ so they feel comfortable in highlighting any worries, said the PDA.