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PDA responds to NPA proposals for a “Day of action”

The PDA has written to the National Pharmacy Association to highlight several important points that need to be considered in advance of their proposed day of action over what the independent community pharmacies' organisation describes as an “emergency across the community pharmacy sector".

Fri 7th June 2024 The PDA

The PDA has written to the Chair and Chief Executive of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), Nick Kaye and Paul Rees, to raise important points regarding contractors obligations to staff and patients which need to be considered by NPA members that are planning to participate in the proposed day of action on Thursday 20 June.

Read the letter below:

Dear Nick and Paul

NPA day of action on 20 June 2024

First, let me clarify that the PDA believes Community Pharmacy funding needs to be increased. The existing community pharmacy contractual framework in England, which sets out the terms and conditions for providing NHS pharmaceutical services, has served as a foundation for community pharmacy services. However, it falls short of addressing critical challenges such as funding cuts and increased workload, and it fails to unlock the full potential of community pharmacies, which is significantly the reason why so many pharmacists are leaving the sector. We are, therefore, not only supportive of a new contractual framework for the community pharmacy sector, but we also believe that we can contribute to developing that new arrangement on behalf of employed and locum pharmacists.

We note with interest that the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) on 4 June 2024 called for a day of action by your members on 20 June 2024 to highlight the emergency across the community pharmacy sector. Proposed actions include symbolic gestures, i.e., turning the lights out for a period, asking staff to wear black, blacking out windows and other activities not affecting core services, engaging with patients, and inviting parliamentary candidates to participate.

We were surprised to learn about the day of action from our membership, who are concerned about some of the implications, and also from the media rather than being informed by the NPA in advance. We understand that the NPA has its reasons for the timing and nature of the day of action, and we respect your decision. However, we believe that early information regarding any action that may affect our members is crucial for effective planning and representation. We hope that in the future, we can maintain a more open line of communication to avoid such situations.

As the largest pharmacist membership organisation, the PDA plays a leadership and representative role for our more than 38,000 members. We want to bring several points to your attention regarding the day of action:

  1. Our primary concern is the safety of patients visiting the pharmacy during the day of action. Activities such as turning the lights off could potentially disrupt the safe and effective operation of the pharmacy. This could have severe implications, including reduced medicines, appliances, and label visibility. Furthermore, the inability to see patients’ details clearly when handing out medication could lead to dire consequences for patients and the Responsible Pharmacist on duty. Patients trying to navigate the public area of the pharmacy in suboptimal lighting conditions could also be at greater risk of trips and falls.
  2. Under the Medicines Act, the Responsible Pharmacist (RP) has mandatory duties to ensure the pharmacy’s safe and effective operation. These duties are intended to maintain high standards of professional practice and safeguard public health. Whilst the pharmacy proprietor could decide to participate in the day of action, the RP must be free to exercise their professional judgment in the pharmacy and should not be influenced by the proprietor or others employed by them.
  3. Although the proposed series of actions includes symbolic actions, some of your members may choose not to follow your guidance, resulting in closures of up to two hours. Employee and locum pharmacists are not party to the contractual dispute between your members and NHS England, which has prompted the proposed day of action, and they should not come under pressure to participate. Employers must not unilaterally adjust pharmacists’ normal pay and working patterns to accommodate this activity. Likewise, any existing agreements on locum pay for that day must be honoured in line with the contract for services.

In light of the concerns many of our members expressed, we will not take a position for or against your proposals on the day. We will publish this letter to alert our wider membership to the above points, and we ask that you also alert your members to the points we have raised.

Yours sincerely


Jay Badenhorst

Director of Pharmacy

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The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

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