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Home  »   PDA UnionLatest News   »   PDA Regional Committees discuss member concerns

PDA Regional Committees discuss member concerns

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

Tue 13th June 2023 The PDA

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

Regional Committee members discussed the PDA’s Safer Pharmacies Survey 2022 results. This survey is conducted annually based on the seven commitments in the Safer Pharmacies Charter and this year it saw an increase in participation during 2022, in line with the PDA’s growing membership numbers.

Areas of main concern raised in the survey and considered at the regional committee meetings included self-checking, having appropriate levels of staffing, and having the opportunity to take adequate rest breaks. These are all vital elements in supporting the safe operation of the pharmacy and optimal patient care.

In relation to the PDA’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Networks, committees focused on the Anti-Racist Pharmacy Toolkit. The toolkit is designed to support members and PDA Reps in assessing their workplaces and taking action to create an anti-racist workplace culture.

In community pharmacy, members reviewed the closures of LloydsPharmacy in Sainsbury’s stores along with other changes within the company, which is impacting on pharmacists’ jobs as well as increasing pressure at other community pharmacies nearby. The PDA Member Support Centre and the PDA Reps Network in LloydsPharmacy are continuing to work together to support members affected by the closures.

Northern Ireland

Following the results of a PDA member survey in Northern Ireland on Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) fees, the PSNI have agreed to introduce a facility for registrants to pay their fees in installments, beginning in April 2024. This indicates a win for the campaign so far, and work will continue on other aspects of retention fees such as maternity relief and part-time workers.

Further to the formal ballot around NHS pay in the hospital sector, only 38% of members responded which did not meet the legal requirements for industrial action. However, following a meeting of the NHS Staff Council, the pay offer made by the government to increase NHS Agenda for Change pay rates by 5%, plus a one-off lump sum worth about 6%, for PDA Union members has now been agreed.

Scotland

For locum pharmacists, it was noted that as more pharmacies switch to online portals, negotiations around locum rates have become very difficult.

Primary care representatives highlighted a new shift to private companies supplying GP surgeries with Independent Prescriber (IP) pharmacists covering the work required.

The meeting also highlighted that PDA members have been participating in various Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) events such as the Annual Congress of the STUC and the annual Anti Racism March & Rally.

North

Community pharmacists at large multiples have reported frequent IT issues, causing disruption for patients, increasing workload for members as well as incidences of abuse. As pharmacies become more reliant on technology, the impact of poor systems and maintenance issues is growing. Members also highlighted that the cost-of-living crisis has led to more incidents of theft in stores which can affect staff safety.

In the hospital sector, the committee welcomed the PDA’s new NHS pharmacists’ newsletter. Members also discussed industrial action taken by other unions and the impact of being asked to do work outside their competencies to ‘cover’ for striking colleagues. The PDA has released guidance around this that some members faced with this issue may find useful.

In primary care, members discussed concerns about trainees receiving appropriate supervision and the risks caused to both trainees and patients when they do not. Pharmacists have shared that whilst a trainee may have a supervisor, they may spend periods of time where they are not in the workplace at the same time.

South East

The prescription tracker system was discussed in regards to the hospital sector. Pharmacists are under pressure to complete prescriptions quickly, which is difficult for high-risk prescriptions such as in paediatrics or chemotherapy. Concerns were raised around accuracy, patient safety, and pharmacist wellbeing.

Locum members highlighted potential rate fixing with some apps which tend to be used predominantly in large multiples.

In primary care, members debated the new GP contract from 1st April 2023 onwards which will significantly impact IP pharmacists’ and PCN pharmacists’ workload along with recruitment.

Wales and West

In community pharmacy, it was reported that there have been difficulties securing mentors for IP and there were concerns about how the sector will successfully attract trainees, especially with the three-sector placement structure in place in Wales.

In hospital, committee members discussed issues around staff retention, particularly as community pharmacy is now offering improved pay. There was also consideration of other healthcare unions’ activities within the sector.

It was pointed out that locums who are based in England are not accredited for services in Wales. Additionally, there was a discussion about locum rates being reduced. The committee welcomed the news that the Welsh government is offering funding for locums to train as IPs.

In primary care, one committee member had been running mental health and wellbeing events for colleagues. It was reported that some PCN pharmacists and technicians working in GP practices were able to access 12 hours of free clinical mentoring to support retention, funded by NHS England through the NHS Long Term Plan. The committee discussed PDA membership policies for the sector and the clinical competency framework.

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

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

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

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