Pharmacists need greater support from employers and the regulator to ensure that pharmacies meet basic safety standards, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association said as it published survey results indicating that lapses are common – which we can exclusively reveal.

The survey of around 2,000 pharmacists looked at how often the seven basic standards of pharmacy safety set out in the PDA’s Safer Pharmacies Charter are met, with a score of 5.00 meaning a standard is always met and a score of 1.00 meaning it is never met.  

Safety standards scored

‘Access to a pharmacist’ had the highest average score of the standards at 4.21; over 80 per cent of respondents said this standard was met all or most of the time. Physical safety on the premises was next at 3.53, followed by ‘no self checking by pharmacists during the dispensing process’, which received an average score of 3.28.

Around nine per cent of respondents said the commitment to no self checking had been met all of the time, while 43 per cent it had been met most of the time.

The other standards refer to: safe staffing levels; pharmacists having adequate rest; feeling able to raise concerns without reprisal; and a culture of respect for the pharmacist’s professional judgment.

More than half of respondents said that at least half of the time, they did not have adequate rest. A similar percentage spoke of not feeling able to raise concerns at least half of the time.  

PDA: ‘This cannot continue’

PDA director Paul Day said: “These are basic things which patients would expect to be in place, yet this survey shows the standards in our charter, which the GPhC acknowledge reflect standards they also set, are not being met. This cannot continue and the regulator must ensure that every pharmacy, on every occasion, is meeting these safety standards.”

The Safer Pharmacies Charter is supported by organisations including Action against Medical Accidents, the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association and the Labour Party. The General Pharmaceutical Council said last year that the key points in the charter “reflect a number of the standards that we set for registered pharmacies and pharmacy professionals.”

The PDA has criticised the GPhC for not holding employers to account for not meeting standards for registered pharmacies. 

Alima Batchelor, the PDA’s head of policy said: “We are disappointed that we have even had to produce a charter of such basic standards, but these survey results and feedback from pharmacists show why it was needed. Our members are passionate about patient safety, however these standards are not something they can directly control, employers need to do more and the regulators need to make sure that they do.”

One pharmacist surveyed said pharmacies “should be assessed more rigorously for adequate staffing levels as a statutory clinical governance procedure… It is imperative that this happens as companies are not recognising the pressures for pharmacists and their staff on the frontline.”

Originally Published by Pharmacy Magazine

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