Pharmacists need to support Track & Trace phase; contractors need to prepare and government needs to pay

The PDA is calling on employers and their representative organisations to ensure that pharmacies are prepared and ready to give their support to the government’s track & trace measures and the potential consequences of this being introduced. 

Mon 1st June 2020 The PDA

The introduction of track and trace will be a significant further step in the government’s efforts to move towards ending the pandemic and as a key part of the health service, pharmacy must give it full support, however, the measures due to start in the next few weeks also bring significant challenges.

The track and trace system depends heavily on the mobile phone app and in order to fully support the measures pharmacy staff need to be allowed and encouraged to keep their mobile phones with them while at work. This basic step will be a change for some employers but is a necessary contribution to the success of the system. 

Pharmacy employers already have a duty to keep their staff safe from infection while at work and that continues.  Potentially the track and trace scheme could lead to scenarios where if one member of the pharmacy team develops COVID-19, others, possibly all of their colleagues could be instructed to simultaneously self-isolate. The scheme is likely to build up its capacity over the next few weeks and therefore its impact upon society generally. Pharmacies must use this window of opportunity to prepare certain mitigation measures, whilst simultaneously still maintaining the existing health and safety measures to protect staff from the virus.   

Potential mitigation measures may include: 

  • A & B teams; Dividing the pharmacy team into 2 or more shifts that never work at the same time, so that they cannot be impacted by contact with a staff member of the other shift. 
  • Preparing a compliment of locums by making them familiar with the pharmacy ahead of any track and trace consequences and calls for self-isolation so that if the incumbent regular pharmacist and/or pharmacy technician needs to self-isolate another is readily available to keep the pharmacy open. 
  • Agreeing in advance how, in the worst-case scenario, staff from several pharmacies from different businesses in a local area may work together to maintain a service from one premises in a locality. 
  • Considering now, how those isolating but not sick might still be able to undertake meaningful work at home in a way that still helps the public, but in a way that maintains the self-isolation, keeps patient data protected and which is compliant with regulations. 

Pharmacies are also reminded that self-isolation and any periods of COVID-19 recovery where members of the team are unavailable for work, will be due to a global pandemic and not because of the individual’s conduct. Employers are therefore encouraged in the interest of fair treatment to discount any such absence from absence management processes and to safeguard individuals’ pay. 

All of the above will have financial impacts on the sector. The PDA does not represent contractors, in fact we are proud to be certified as being free of their control, however, we wholeheartedly encourage the contractors’ representatives to lobby government to provide the financial support the sector needs to maintain this vital frontline service. Our members in hospitals, in England at least, are now working in more financially secure organisations thanks to the government writing off over £13 billion of hospital trust debt. In contrast, the community pharmacy sector has been underfunded for a long time, especially in England, and there has been minimal extra support as this pandemic has impacted. While employers are obliged to make sure that all appropriate safety measures are in place in any event, we urge the government to do more to support the extra costs.  

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.

Cookie Use

This website uses cookies to help us provide the best user experience. If you continue browsing you are giving your consent to our use of cookies.

General Guidance Resources Surveys PDA Campaigns Regulations Locums Indemnity Arrangements Pre-Regs & Students FAQs Coronavirus (COVID-19)