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PDA encourages members to celebrate #HeartUnions Week 2022

Today is the first day of HeartUnions Week 2022 (14 – 20 February), which is the annual trade union campaign that showcases the achievements of union members, as well as highlighting the importance of unions in the workplace and encouraging non-members to join their union.

Mon 14th February 2022 The PDA

The PDA is the only independent trade union exclusively for pharmacists, as well as being the largest pharmacist membership organisation in the UK, with over 32,000 members.

The purpose of HeartUnions Week is to acknowledge all the work unions do for their members, and how they make a positive difference to members’ working lives. This week is also an opportunity to encourage those who aren’t a part of a union, to join one. To celebrate HeartUnions Week 2022, the PDA will be taking part in the annual social media campaign. This year, the PDA will be encouraging members to share their individual experiences of how being a part of a union has helped them during their pharmacy journeys and highlighting the achievements of the union over the last year.

Here is a rundown of just some of the key successes the union has had since HeartUnions Week last year:

Achievements of the PDA Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Networks

The PDA has four EDI Networks; NAWP, LGBT+, BAME and Ability. These networks have been created to allow members to discuss different topics and issues that affect them in the workplace and work together to tackle all forms of discrimination.

During Pride Month in June 2021, the PDA LGBT+ Network announced its first-ever President, Vice-President, and Honorary Secretary following the network’s first-ever elections. Following this in the same month, the PDA Ability Network raised awareness of mental health in the workplace for Men’s Health Week. In a Member Voice article, a male Ability Network member shared his experience of working as a pharmacist with OCD.

In September 2021, the BAME Network launched a Race and Ethnicity Terminology Factsheet to help others educate themselves on race and ethnicity in the workplace. Also in September and October, the PDA hosted a ‘Women in Pharmacy’ session at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress (CPC) and the Pharmacy Show which included representation from the NAWP network.

PDA defends members

The PDA secured almost £196,000 in payments for pharmacists through recent tribunal claims. The PDA tries to support members to resolve workplace disputes early, locally, and without a conflict or formal dispute if possible. However, sometimes situations cannot be satisfactorily resolved internally with an employer. The PDA recently settled cases which included issues around unfair dismissal, maternity, part-time issues, disability discrimination, race discrimination, TUPE issues and unfair deductions of wages.

PDA supports student members

During 2021, the PDA supported a record number of student and trainee members with problems they’ve faced during learning and training. In a Fitness to Practise case, the PDA swiftly intervened on behalf of a student member with a disability who was treated unfairly by a School of Pharmacy. This intervention helped the member save over £50,000 in lost salary. In addition to this, each year the PDA sponsors the Student Leadership category in the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh Pharmacy Awards. The awards pay tribute to all of those working hard in pharmacy and the positive impact they have on their communities.

The PDA has a network of trained Student Reps from universities around the UK who are the first contact for student members. The reps host local activities and events and create the Student E-Newsletters. The development programme for Student Reps is available on the PDA Education Hub.

PDA releases guidance, factsheets and FAQ documents

Over the course of the last year, the PDA released FAQ documents such as advice for prescribing and non-prescribing pharmacists in primary care, and Flu Vaccination Service FAQs. The PDA also released a number of guides such as Covid-19 vaccine administration guidance and the Guide to: Discrimination and the pregnant employee.

PDA’s partnership with Pharmacist Support

The PDA has donated over £150,000 to its charity partners Pharmacist Support. In January 2022, the PDA encouraged employers and other pharmacist organisations to donate £1 per pharmacist employee or member to the professions independent charity too, in order to help make a substantive difference to its funding in 2022 and onwards.

PDA Reps Network in Boots and LloydsPharmacy hosted member engagement events

The PDA is the recognised union for Boots and LloydsPharmacy. The PDA hosts a range of events that allow pharmacists to network with each other, learn more about their profession and share concerns. The PDA Reps Network in Boots and LloydsPharmacy have held a series of virtual interactive member meetings in 2021. These meetings have allowed members to discuss issues important to them such as pay and workload, and build relationships with their reps networks. The reps then follow up on the issues raised with the employer. As trade union officials the reps have specific rights and protections under trade union law.

PDA supports trainee pharmacists

PDA Education ran a revision programme designed to support trainee pharmacists who sat the GPhC assessment in March, July and November 2021. The revision programme that included timed mock exams was described as a useful tool that helped many members to pass the assessment. The PDA has also contributed to the GPhC stakeholder group on assessment to changes to IET, ensuring that member experiences are heard.

PDA negotiates for better pay & conditions

Pharmacists at more than 20 employers negotiate improvements to pay and conditions through the PDA Union. The third year of pay talks at Boots secured a pay review package, much improved on that given to non-unionised employees. The efforts of the union continue to reverse the impact of the years of under inflation increases that were given before union recognition was secured. The first pay talks at Lloyds Pharmacy have begun and PDA Union Representatives will be continuing that process for the next few months. Pay talks at other smaller employers, including GP Federations in Northern Ireland, are also happening regularly.

PDA works with other unions

Just as individuals can achieve more together by uniting as a trade union, the PDA can achieve more by working with other trade unions. The views, experiences, and interests of PDA members influence the work of trade union federations with which the PDA are affiliated. EPhEU unites pharmacists’ unions from across the continent and has been sharing best practice throughout the pandemic. In 2021 PDA Chairman, Mark Koziol, who was already a member of the EPhEU Executive Committee, was elected as EPhEU Secretary-General for the next three years.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), adopted a proposal from the PDA that states that decision-making by the government regarding future pharmacy policy and service design should be made through tripartite structures. In Scotland, the PDA is now part of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) and members in Scotland can get involved with their local trades councils, the national equality conferences, and the wider work of the STUC.

Each of the Trade Union federations provide opportunities for individual pharmacists to access training and events, develop skills, and represent their profession.  For example, one newly qualified pharmacist is now a member of the governing body of one of the UK’s Trade Union movements’ oldest federations.

PDA launches #GetVaccinated campaign resources

PDA members participated in the PDA’s #GetVaccinated campaign, and the PDA published a variety of downloadable resources to be used in support of the campaign. These resources included several posters in different languages. The campaign also saw community, locum, hospital, GP and students and trainee pharmacists take part by sharing videos encouraging pharmacy teams and their patients to get vaccinated. The PDA also has indemnity insurance for members involved in administering Covid-19 vaccinations.

PDA prioritises health, safety and wellbeing of members

The PDA has long campaigned for an end to violence at work for pharmacists. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the PDA has seen an increase in the number of members experiencing violence in pharmacies and at vaccination centres. The PDA has encouraged employers, national police chiefs, the GPhC and other organisations to sign up to its Zero Tolerance of Abuse in Pharmacies campaign. The PDA also urges members to remind their employers of their responsibilities to regularly conduct risk assessments to ensure the safety of staff and the public.

The PDA recently conducted a Stress and Wellbeing Survey based on HSE’s standards which address areas of work associated with poor health and increased accident and sickness absence rates. The PDA published its initial findings earlier this month and PDA Health & Safety Representatives will be discussing the results of these surveys with the relevant employers and working with them to improve conditions for all pharmacists. All PDA Reps are also Health & Safety Reps and have completed the PDA Reps training programme, including the new PDA bespoke Health & Safety training course which the PDA ran for the first time in January 2022.

PDA helps to shape policy

The PDA represents members’ views in the policy arena by responding to stakeholder consultation exercises and policy proposals. These can be around regulatory matters, such as feeding into the GPhC’s consultations on managing concerns about pharmacy professionals and the Professional Standards Authority proposals around the regulation of regulators, or on wider issues which may impact pharmacists, for example, NHS Pensions or healthcare professionals’ apprenticeship schemes. The PDA canvass members’ opinions to lead engagement with stakeholders including the pharmacist workforce and members’ experiences of violence and abuse in pharmacies which enables the PDA to speak with authority.

The PDA also assesses member enquiries to identify issue trends and to inform the development of supportive guidance such as enabling locum pharmacists to access Covid-19 vaccinations, developing risk management tools and campaign for better conditions and employment practices like the safer pharmacies charter.

A selection of testimonials and experiences from PDA members can be found below.

A GP Pharmacist Prescriber and PDA Regional Committee Member said, I love being a PDA Union member as well as being a Regional Committee Member for Primary Care for the largest pharmacist-membership organisation in the UK. I have seen the great work and wide variety of issues the PDA has dealt with for pharmacists from all sectors in pharmacy. The PDA truly defends the reputation of grassroot pharmacists such as speaking out against violence against pharmacists, questioning the apparent national shortage of pharmacists, promoting the Safer Pharmacies Charter to prevent pharmacist’s burnout from workplace pressures and improve safer working conditions.

“I’m proud of the contributions I’ve made for the PDA Union recently on a wide variety of issues such as contributing to the FAQ document for prescribing and non-prescribing pharmacists working in Primary Care, raising awareness about male victims of domestic violence, how pharmacists’ can support them in pharmacies and participating in the PDA’s GetVaccinated campaign in my mother tongue in Bangla (Sylheti).” 

A GP Practice Pharmacist and PDA Regional Committee Member said, “Being a member of a union is important to ensure we have safe workplaces, good working conditions, fair pay and access to legal advice on employment matters. Employers may not always look out for you, but the PDA Union – the largest pharmacist member organisation will.”

A Pharmacist and PDA Rep said, “I have been a member of the PDA since I qualified as a pharmacist and I believe it is the only organisation that truly represents individual pharmacists. A while ago, I was involved in a dispensing error where my employer would not pay damages to the patient and the patient wanted to sue me personally, until the PDA intervened and eventually the employer’s indemnity insurance had to settle with the patient.

“One thing that the PDA has done in the past year that I feel proud of is getting recognition within LloydsPharmacy and developing a positive working relationship with the employer on pharmacist issues.”

Get involved

  1. PDA Reps and members are encouraged to interact with the content the PDA will be posting across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram during the week.
  2. HeartUnions have several resources that are free to use such as profile picture frames and social media graphics to show support for the campaign.
  3. PDA members are encouraged to share their stories on social media of how being a part of a union has helped them during their pharmacy journeys by using the hashtag #HeartUnions in their posts.
  4. PDA members are encouraged to share their experiences of why they joined the PDA, why they have joined an EDI Network, or why they became a PDA Rep on social media.
  5. Pharmacists, please share this article with pharmacist colleagues who arent already members and ask them to join the PDA.

Learn more

Not yet a PDA member?

If you have not yet joined the PDA, we encourage you to join today and ask your colleagues to do the same.

Membership is FREE to pharmacy students, trainee pharmacists and for the first three months of being newly qualified.


Read about our key member benefits here.










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)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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