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Community pharmacy should be used to its potential in vaccination programme, but it must be done safely

Safe levels of pharmacist workload must be a key consideration in the vaccination roll out plans for community pharmacy.

Fri 15th January 2021 The PDA

Throughout the last year, community pharmacy has faced increasing volumes as patient visits have migrated from GP practices and hospitals to the local pharmacy. Pharmacists are already working to capacity, so as politicians and the public rightly join the call for the whole sector to be fully utilised in the vaccination programme, the PDA is emphasising that this can only be achieved by not overwhelming already hard-working professionals.

The experience of delivering millions of flu vaccinations positions the sector well for a role in the Covid vaccination roll-out, however, the two activities are not identical. A responsible pharmacist already has a full job in operating a pharmacy and providing patient care and advice, therefore if another set of responsibilities to manage and administer Covid vaccinations is added to the pharmacy, this needs to be done by engaging an additional pharmacist.

Thankfully, the profession has a significant population of locums and a flexible employed workforce, therefore with adequate additional government funding, this should be entirely achievable. Throughout the pandemic, there have been calls for the whole sector to work collaboratively and the PDA emphasise the need for employers to ensure they prioritise the public good. Employers need to ensure existing employed or locum pharmacists are only asked to work within the boundaries of what can be achieved safely.

As the largest pharmacist organisation, that listens constantly to the experience of frontline pharmacists, the PDA is only too aware of how excessive workload impacts, and we also have a significant and detailed understanding from our history of claims and incidents of what can happen when safety standards are not met. As the defence association and as the independent trade union for the profession, we will support PDA members who are placed under undue pressure from any employer.

The PDA believe that, if employers are willing to be flexible and maintain safety as a priority, any remaining barriers to utilising community pharmacy to its full potential as an important part of the vaccination programme can be resolved by government making the right decisions on supplies and funding.

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