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Pharmacists targeted by anti-vaccination protesters

The PDA has seen a rise in incidents of violence and aggression reported by pharmacists working in Covid-19 vaccination centres.

Tue 8th February 2022 The PDA

The PDA is receiving an increasing number of calls to its advice line from members working in pharmacies or vaccination centres. These members have been subjected to targeted and deliberate intimidation from protesters who oppose the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Incidents are becoming more common and have seen protesters gaining entry to premises in groups and trying to disrupt Covid-19 vaccinations from taking place. Pharmacists, staff, and members of the public have been subjected to verbal threats and intimidating behaviour. Protesters are often filming their actions to gain wider exposure.

The ability for protesters to gain access to premises where vaccinations are taking place causes significant anxiety and distress for members of the public, and for those working diligently to deliver the vaccination programme in a safe environment.

Employers and business owners who have a contract with the NHS to provide the Covid-19 vaccinations have a duty of care and obligations under Health and Safety legislation to keep their staff safe whilst at work alongside anyone visiting their premises. This also includes protection from acts of threatening and violent behaviour.

For registered pharmacies, in addition to the requirements under the Health and Safety Act, the GPhC standards for pharmacy premises also carry a duty to protect the safety of staff and the public receiving services on those premises. This includes the environment and condition of the premises from which pharmacy services are provided and any other associated premises. Registered pharmacies also need to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.

The PDA is reminding members that their employers should regularly conduct risk assessments and have the appropriate measures in place to ensure the safety of staff and the public. Employers should particularly bear in mind the occurrence of recent incidents where Covid-19 vaccinations are taking place.

Advice has been provided by the NHS for anyone working in a vaccination site around security which can be accessed through the Future NHS platform. Guidance from the police states that if a crime is in progress or if someone is in immediate danger call 999. For non-emergency enquiries, such as reporting crimes and other concerns that do not require an emergency response call 101.

If you are a pharmacist who has been subjected to any acts of violence or abuse in the workplace, whether in relation to protesters or any other situation, you should contact the PDA for further guidance and support.

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