Pharmacists concerned as security guards removed

Alongside staff redundancies, store closures and the threat of wage freezes, PDA members working at some pharmacy multiples are reporting instances where longstanding security guard services are being withdrawn from their workplace.

Sat 31st October 2020 The PDA

In an ideal world, no pharmacy should need a security guard, but in reality, this protection is vital at some locations, particularly midnight pharmacies operating in isolated locations where pandemic measures have impacted on the wider security environment. Although technology and local initiatives can enhance staff security through remote monitoring, these are less effective if urgent assistance is required. Pharmacists tell us they are concerned that their personal safety and that of their staff is being placed at risk due to what appears to be cost-saving measures.

At the start of lockdown, there was an upsurge in pharmacy crime as reported here and this trend is likely to continue as stricter pandemic control measures are brought in.

We call upon the company managers who make the final decisions on guarding resources to ensure that every decision to withdraw security guards is based on solid evidence and a thorough risk assessment having been undertaken in consultation with the employees whose safety could be jeopardised without guarding resource. Exposing pharmacists, their teams and patients to unacceptable risks in the workplace can not be based on cost-saving measures.

The PDA has long campaigned to stop violence in pharmacies and our policy and resource pack provide a helpful management tool to identify and mitigate against the risk of violence.

The PDA campaign has been supported by police forces, police and crime commissioners, safety groups, and the campaign poster (free to download and display in any pharmacy) now has the support of the National Police Chief’s council.

The campaign has secured commitments from the Company Chemists Association, Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), National Pharmacy Association and GPhC on zero tolerance of violence.

We expect all those employers who claim to support zero tolerance of violence to be actively seeking to avoid such risks and encourage them to use our resource pack as a tool to identify and implement appropriate safety measures. Employers have a legal responsibility for the safety of their staff and are expected to have documented up to date risk assessments relating to health & safety risks.

PDA members who are concerned about their employer removing safety measures and leaving them vulnerable to assault should contact the PDA support centre for advice.

If you are employed at Boots, please contact your local PDA Union network representative who can raise your concerns as a Health & Safety issue or support you through raising a grievance if this is required.

Related links

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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