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PDA responds to the Home Office’s call for evidence on violence and abuse toward shop staff

The Home Office has called for evidence on the problem of violence and abuse toward shop staff in England and Wales.

Thu 11th July 2019 The PDA

It asked for relevant evidence on the prevalence of it, prevention and support measures, the operation of the criminal justice system and the best way of addressing it. The consultation ran from 5 April 2019 to 28 June 2019.

The PDA feel that it is important for the government to consider that some people who work in retail environments are providing NHS services. The front-line role of pharmacists and their co-workers leads to exposure to aggressive, abusive and violent behaviour because they are in regular and frequent contact with the public, often when the patients and customers are under stress (this may be caused by medical conditions or the medicines patients are taking).

Regretfully, our members tell us that they feel some community pharmacist employers tend to trivialise verbal abuse and are slow to prohibit or ban patients / customers from their stores. They don’t feel that staff are fully supported by such employers. This can lead to a normalisation of aggressive and intimidating behaviour.

We have even heard reports that patients / customers who have been abusive to pharmacists, have been sent vouchers or gift baskets to appease them, despite the pharmacist following the legal, ethical and correct procedures to report abuse.

Our recommendations included:

  • The government must support the use of “zero tolerance” policies and signage to address violence, abuse and threats in community pharmacies.
  • The government must do more to promote unionisation in retail workplaces.
  • The government must address the normalisation of violence, threats and abuse in some community pharmacy employers, and provide staff with protection. It must place requirements upon pharmacy business owners to conduct risk assessments and take sufficient action to mitigate risks.


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Our previous consultation responses can be found by clicking here.

Our ongoing work to improve safety in the workplace

As part of our ongoing efforts to stop violence in pharmacies, we developed a Violence in Pharmacy policy and resource pack to outline the principle of physical safety in the workplace. We also have a Safer Pharmacies Charter that defines the basic standards to ensure safe practice wherever pharmacists work.

Earlier this year, we published the results of three patient safety surveys undertaken over the last three years and found that 40% of respondents said that the standard on physical safety had been met half the time or less, within the past six months. Learn more

Our 2019 annual patient safety survey is currently open to employees and locums in community and hospital pharmacies. For more information and to complete the survey, click 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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