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Show love for your union this HeartUnions Week (8-14 February 2021)

Today marks the start of HeartUnions week 2021. This year the PDA is celebrating by demonstrating why unions are vital for everyone at work and encouraging all pharmacists, students and pre-regs that are not yet members to join the PDA today.

Mon 8th February 2021 The PDA

The PDA is the only independent trade union exclusively for pharmacists in the UK. We are also the largest pharmacist organisation with over 32,000 members, and we are still growing!

There has never been a more challenging time for healthcare unions including the PDA. Over the last year, the PDA has really stepped up to ensure pharmacists have been supported and given a voice through these trying times. We have listened to our members and have worked to deliver the very best for them; introducing new equality networks, new website resources and new campaigns and policies.

To celebrate HeartUnions week, we will be running a social media campaign to share the impact our union has had on members over the last year and what resources have been created for PDA reps and members to help them get more people to join the union. 

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

1. PDA launches Zero tolerance of abuse in pharmacies poster

After PDA members reported an increase in incidents of abuse and violence in pharmacies as a result of the COVID pandemic, in April 2020, the PDA launched a zero tolerance of abuse poster as part of a long-running Violence in Pharmacy campaign. The campaign brought the issue to the attention of politicians, police forces and the general public. During 2020, the PDA campaign welcomed statements regarding zero tolerance of violence from the Company Chemists Association (CCA), National Pharmacy Association (NPA), Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) and the GPhC. The zero-tolerance of abuse poster was endorsed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

The PDA has been campaigning to see notices clearly highlighting zero tolerance of violence in every community pharmacy across the UK. In January 2021, pharmacists at Boots welcomed their employer distributing zero-tolerance posters. The PDA hopes other CCA member contractors can do the same. Learn more

2. PDA launches equality networks on the 10th anniversary of the Equality Act

The PDA opened the first of four equality networks on 1 January 2020, by relaunching the National Association of Women Pharmacists (NAWP). That 100-year-old organisation had been in decline and was at risk of disappearing, but was relaunched as part of the PDA. In April 2020, the PDA then launched three additional Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Networks; the Ability, BAME and LGBT+ Network. The EDI Networks provide a structure through which PDA members can work together to proactively tackle discrimination and the causes of discrimination. At the beginning of this year, the PDA celebrated reaching more than 1,500 memberships across the four equality networks within the first year of their activity, demonstrating the importance of equality at work to pharmacists. Learn more.

The PDA launched a Discrimination in the workplace guide in December 2020 to give pharmacists a general overview of their rights at work.

3. Record membership growth at PDA

The PDA’s 12th Annual General Meeting as a trade union was held in June 2020. Due to the pandemic, the meeting was the first general meeting of the union to be held virtually. The review of the year included another record increase in the number of members. At the Annual General Meeting, the PDA Union General Secretary, John Murphy reported another successful year for the PDA including a 7.7% (2,180) net increase in members from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, at which point the membership numbers stood at 30,393. Learn more.

4. PDA produces Risk Assessment Tool

Following guidance from the GPhC, the PDA developed a risk assessment tool to help pharmacists to reduce the risks of COVID-19 in the pharmacy and to consider what actions to take to reduce the risk of closure if their whole pharmacy team has to self-isolate. The risk assessment tool was designed to enable a systematic approach to both assessing and managing the risks of COVID-19 in the community pharmacy as well as building resilience to prevent closures. Learn more

5. PDA launches Member Voice

The PDA created the Member Voice section of the website so that members can share their thoughts and experiences on the issues that matter to them. If you are a PDA member and would like to share your views with us and be featured on the website, email Collette Bradford, Head of Organising & Engagement, on Member items which are more personal can be completely anonymous, like the Living and working with autism post. Including a picture is also optional. The latest Member Voice stories can be found here.

6. PDA launches Education Hub

In April 2020, the PDA made a commitment to all provisionally registered pharmacists to ensure they had the support they needed as they took on their new roles. The PDA delivered on that promise with the launch of the Education Hub that offers a programme of support for provisionally registered pharmacists. The PDA programme combined assessment practice questions, discussion forums, information, advice and guidance on a range of issues. Since the launch, the PDA has added further training modules to the platform and will continue to grow it over the coming months.

Additional support for students, pre-regs and prov-regs  
Over the last year, there has been a lot of uncertainty, delayed announcements and confusion around student exams and the pre-reg assessment. The PDA has offered support and guidance to help students, pre-regs and prov-reg pharmacists. From a live webinar and pre-reg FAQs, to surveys, the launch of a Provisional Registration Charter and FREE online training, the PDA has been fighting to ensure members get the support that they need. Learn more

7. PDA launches student reps training programme

In November 2020, the PDA launched a student training programme for new reps. The PDA Student rep programme is a five-module course aimed at equipping student reps with the range of skills required to carry out their role. The course contains a mixture of live sessions and online learning, the first module of the course includes guidance on how the PDA supports students, the benefits of joining in the PDA and how to support members. The course also helps to develop transferable skills including active listening, communication and negotiation skills.

If you are interested in becoming a PDA student rep you can find out more about the role by completing the online form.

8. PDA Locum Task Force and Vaccination Portal

In April 2020 when our locum members were experiencing low bookings and cancellations, the PDA put together a locum task force with over 700 pharmacists registered in the scheme. The task force information was shared with UK CCGs and health boards so they could identify where these additional pharmacists could help with their response to the pandemic. Many locums were engaged in activities from supporting patient care to working with the national test and trace programmes. This year the PDA secured vaccinations for locum pharmacists as part of the health care team, and with agreement from the NHS the PDA has developed an online portal where locums can register their details and choose their local CCG, who will arrange a vaccination appointment directly.

9. PDA recognition continues to deliver rewards for pharmacists in pay negotiations

The PDA Union continues to negotiate pay for members and has secured above-inflation increases for members whose employment with Boots transferred under TUPE to new employers in the NHS and Prison Service. The PDA Union has been in negotiation with 3 NHS employers, wholly-owned subsidiaries of NHS Trusts and Sodexo for members employed in prisons. In each case, these employers had inherited employees and the PDA Union recognition agreement following the transfer of the business from Boots earlier this year. The outcome of each set of negotiations resulted in different settlements being agreed, sometimes as a mix of pay increase and a one-off lump sum, but the common theme is that each individual agreement has seen members pay increase by more than the rate of inflation now and a strategy to harmonise pay dates in line with the new employers established date, usually 1 April, meaning in some cases a further increase in April. In addition to these increases, the PDA Union has been able to confirm that members transferred from Boots will receive a pro-rata bonus payment made by Boots based on their service to the point of transfer. Learn more.

For those pharmacists who continue to be employed by BootsUK, the PDA secured a number of improvements in a very challenging year including equal pay for pharmacists in NI, the immediate uplift of any salary paid to a substantively appointed and performing pharmacist that is below the market range for their role, clarity on rest breaks and a one-off bonus payment for those eligible. Learn more.

Related link

10. PDA secures confirmation that pharmacists will also receive Covid-19 death in service benefits

In May 2020, Health & Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock wrote to the PDA to confirm that compensation scheme cases from community pharmacy will be treated in the same way as cases from other parts of the NHS and social care sectors. Learn more. 

11. PDA Union and LloydsPharmacy reach recognition agreement for pharmacists

In response to calls from pharmacists at Lloyds, in 2020 PDA Union applied to the government’s Central Arbitration Committee for trade union recognition at the second-largest community pharmacy employer in the UK. Significant progress was made when the government body that oversees the process formally accepted the application. Since then, the PDA Union and LloydsPharmacy have reached a voluntary trade union recognition agreement. This means that pharmacists at LloydsPharmacy will in future be able to negotiate over certain terms and conditions and be consulted on matters which impact on their employment, through the PDA Union. Learn more.

12. New joining resources added to the PDA website

Last year, the PDA created a new section of the website so that reps and members can help share PDA resources and get more people to join the union. The joining materials give potential new members an insight into who the PDA are, what we do and the key benefits of joining the union. Help us to help more of the profession by sharing our resources and encouraging your colleagues to join us. Learn more

13. PDA wins for members working in the hospital sector

In addition to helping members collectively in TUPE transfers within hospital pharmacies and CCGs to secure or improve their terms and conditions of employment, the PDA also secured a win for provisionally registered pharmacists with NHS professionals, a government-owned temporary staff bank for NHS trusts. The PDA lobbied on behalf of provisionally registered members, who had previously been barred by NHS Professionals, for them to be able to access relief shifts via the staff bank provided they are working in their substantive trust.

The PDA also published our Safer Hospital Pharmacies Charter, as experience in supporting members identified that they continue to have concerns over safer pharmacy practice and improving their working environments.

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HeartUnions Week is about celebrating your union and recruiting new members into your union.

HeartUnions week is a TUC initiative.  For more information, visit:

Get Involved

  1. This week, PDA members and union reps are encouraged to share photographs and HeartUnions (?Unions) messages on social media about what you love about the PDA and why other pharmacists should join!
  2. Share photos of any activity you lead or are involved in for HeartUnions week on Twitter. Tag @the_pda & @The_TUC #heartunionsweek
  3. We are promoting and encouraging a week of members recruiting new members to the PDA (including student and pre-registration pharmacists). Your colleagues and friends can join the PDA at: 






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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