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Home  »   Latest News   »   PDA members’ views discussed at the latest Regional Committee meetings

PDA members’ views discussed at the latest Regional Committee meetings

The PDA Regional Committees are pharmacists and all PDA members, from across areas of practice that are elected to represent the wider membership. They meet to discuss current issues in pharmacy ahead of PDA National Executive Committee meetings.

Fri 24th March 2023 The PDA

Below are details of some of the main issues that were debated at the first Regional Committee meetings of 2023.

Regional Committee members discussed the PDA’s response to the Commission on Professional Leadership, especially the point that the profession’s leadership structures need to be able to respond to a much wider agenda than just that of the four national governments and their NHS organisations. The PDA will continue to engage with members and their views.

In community pharmacy, members discussed medicine shortages, which extended to over-the-counter medicines and own-brand items too, suggesting other reasons for shortages than those claimed for more high-profile shortages such as antibiotics. Although there was a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) available for penicillin, none was in place for other antibiotics, so this did not prove to be useful for pharmacists, and shortages have led to increased violence in pharmacies again.

In Boots, Regional Committees debated high workload and staffing issues as more pharmacists leave the company and new staff have not been appropriately trained. In LloydsPharmacy, members highlighted poor conditions of stores and safety of working conditions, especially for locums. The PDA Reps Network in LloydsPharmacy also submitted their Pay Claim for 2023.

Northern Ireland

The results of a PDA member survey in NI on PSNI fees have now been published. On average, the fees accounted for 23% of a pharmacist’s take-home pay for one month, and as a result, 97% of members surveyed felt the fees were too high. Further comments from members in the survey included some criticism of pharmacy leadership, such as the gender pay gap not being addressed and a lack of parity with healthcare colleagues. PDA members working in GP Federations have also highlighted low rates of pay, particularly amidst the cost of living crisis.

National Officer for NI, Una O’Farrell participated in a workshop run by PSNI for stakeholders on the code of ethics and provided feedback based around PDA members’ concerns. She also attended an emergency meeting called by the health committee at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) following reservations as to how they were being represented at government level.

Following a survey around NHS pay in the hospital sector and agreement at the National Executive to proceed to a formal ballot in Northern Ireland, members considered industrial action in pharmacy and current strike activity across the healthcare sector from sister unions.

Scotland

PDA members from Scotland attended various Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) events including the Annual St Andrew’s Day Anti Racism March and Rally and the STUC Disabled Workers Conference. One Regional Committee member has completed STUC training on ‘Unions into Schools‘, a scheme where trained union representatives visit secondary schools and work alongside teachers to ensure that young people have an improved knowledge of their rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

The STUC have launched a cost of living crisis campaign and PDA members are encouraged to support and to attend related events for better pay, fairer taxes and more manageable costs.

The Regional Committee in Scotland noted increasing challenges in primary care with high workloads, particularly around the volume of acute prescriptions. One member reported 90 acute prescriptions in one shift, which is well above the British Medical Association’s recommendation of a maximum of 45. The committee believes that a bullying culture exists within some practices to fulfil prescriptions. Members raised difficulty in getting patients to attend face to face clinics with pharmacists, due to a mixture of financial and mobility constraints for patients and competing GP priorities, which can have a severely detrimental impact on health from missing timely interventions.

The Regional Committee also raised issues for locums around agencies offering higher rates to English locums.

North

Regional Committee members in the North discussed the Anti-Racist Pharmacy Toolkit, which is designed to support members and reps in assessing their workplace and taking action to create an anti-racist workplace.

Community pharmacists shared their experiences of dispensing medicines wearing coats and gloves due to the reduced temperature in stores during the recent cold weather. It was discussed how employers do not seem to want to pay for appropriate heating and in some pharmacies the temperature is controlled remotely with no way to override this. The committee discussed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on minimum temperatures. Additionally, members talked about how pharmacists are being asked to deliver more services in community, but are struggling to undertake basic services with the available staff continuing to decrease.

Locums continue to put forward concerns around rates, and this has led to an increase in those joining the PDA. There were also concerns around locums being asked to work unsociable hours alongside trainees around regular staff and dispensers working the ‘day shift,’ impacting on both patient and staff safety.

South East

In community pharmacy, the South East Regional Committee noted that there appeared to be a lack of preparation for the surge in respiratory viruses during the winter. Some pharmacies experienced issues with ordering from the supplier, whilst others experienced high volumes and workload and/or staffing issues.

In primary care, members discussed increased workload for pharmacists, rather than it being spread across the whole Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT). This included work such as polypharmacy and inhaler switching in addition to doing normal practice work.

Locums highlighted that they are not able to get NHS email accounts, which has created issues when working in some branches, and some services such as the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) rely on the use of an NHS email account. The PDA has raised this issue on behalf of members.

Wales and West

In community pharmacy, temporary pharmacy closures continue to occur, with some not being reported. Members at Well Pharmacy highlighted cuts to staffing, poor working conditions, increased workload and pressure.

In primary care, the Regional Committee signposted to the PDA’s useful resource around awareness of boundaries of professional competence.

Across all sectors, pay and the cost of living crisis is impacting on members’ wellbeing. PDA members are reminded to access the Blue Light Card and to make use of the Prescription Prepayment Certificates (PPCs), as well as to contact Pharmacist Support if needed (or The Pharmacist Advice and Support Service, known as PASS, for members in Northern Ireland). PDA members can also access benefits from their membership via PDA Plus.

Matters raised by individuals and groups of members which are discussed at regional level are reported to the National Executive Committee (NEC), where PDA Union policy is set.

PDA members needing support with issues at their workplace should contact the PDA Member Support Centre, while wider concerns about developments or trends in pharmacy can be shared with the local Regional Committee.

The Regional Committees are part of the PDA’s democratic structure and are formed to represent members’ views.

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