A pharmacy locum agency is telling pharmacy staff that they have a greater chance of getting shifts if they are willing to work through their lunch breaks, the Pharmacists Defence Association (PDA) has claimed.
The PDA said the agency, which it declined to name publicly, uses an online diary system that allows locums to specify their availability. The system states that “lunch preferences reduce the number of vacancies offered”.
Paul Day, national officer of the PDA, said this implied that those who specify that they want to have a break may not get offered employment.
“There are dozens of locum agencies and we have heard of such practices before anecdotally, but this is the first time we have seen it written down in this way on a website,” he said.
“The issue here is not just the agency which is doing this but that it is the pharmacy clients’ request. They want locums who don’t take the breaks and lunch breaks they are legally entitled to.”
Day said pharmacists not getting enough rest was not only against the law, but also a risk to patient safety.
“A pharmacist who is not rested is more likely to make mistakes than one who is,” he said.
The PDA launched its Safer Pharmacies Charter at the end of 2017. It includes seven commitments, one of which is adequate rest, which it says will improve the safety and care of patients and improve working conditions for pharmacists.