|Community Pharmacy employers have not reported any cases of the COVID-19 infection amongst employees despite a regulatory requirement that they must report if there is reasonable evidence that someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was likely exposed because of their work.
It is a reasonable assumption that pharmacists and their teams, in all areas of practice, will have been following social distancing and government guidelines outside of work to minimise the risk of catching coronavirus and avoiding contact with others, throughout the lockdown period. The majority of interactions with people from outside their household will therefore have been while they were at work, spending time with colleagues and patients.
Yet while employers of pharmacists in GP practice, prisons and hospitals have reported fatal and non-fatal instances of coronavirus among employees, a government minister has said there have been no reports submitted from community pharmacy employers.
Employers have a legal responsibility to properly manage health & safety at work. However, in April, the PDA reiterated the Health & Safety Executive reporting requirements as a reminder to all employers of their responsibilities under RIDDOR (learn more).
Paul Day, PDA Director said: “We need to know the most likely place that individuals may have caught coronavirus. This is necessary for HR records and to assist any overall inquiry into the pandemic in order that the country learns and improves in preparation for any future pandemic. This government statement means that either there have been no instances in community pharmacy, which we find inconceivable, or it means that some employers have failed to meet their reporting obligations.”
The PDA concerns come after a parliamentary question revealed the level of reporting when Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked the government: “How many cases of COVID-19 considered to have been contracted in the workplace have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR)?”
The ministerial response revealed that while 1,526 instances have been reported from hospitals, 51 from GP practices and 4 from prisons, there has been zero reporting of COVID-19 by community pharmacy employers (see table below).