More than 180 people referred to domestic abuse support via community pharmacy scheme  

The Home Office has reported that at least 186 people have used the ‘Ask for ANI’ scheme since it launched in 2021.
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Community pharmacists have referred at least 186 people to domestic abuse support services through the ‘Ask for ANI’ (Action Needed Immediately) scheme since it began, a government minister has said.

The government-backed initiative to help people experiencing domestic abuse access help from their local pharmacy launched across the UK in January 2021.

Anyone who says the codeword ‘ANI’ to staff in a participating pharmacy is invited to a private space, where they can talk to a trained pharmacy team member to discuss contacting the police or accessing domestic abuse support services.

Responding to a written question from Labour MP Jess Philips, Home Office minister Laura Farris said that 186 people had been recorded as having received help to access support from the police or domestic abuse services since the Ask for ANI scheme had begun, with 38 of these cases reported in 2022 and 50 cases reported in 2023.

However, Farris said the figures were likely to be an underestimate because pharmacies are “encouraged but not required” to report disclosures to the Home Office.

She added that ‘Ask for ANI’ is now being piloted in job centre sites across the UK and an evaluation of the scheme will be published “in due course”.

The Pharmaceutical Journal reported in March 2021 that more than 4,000 community pharmacies were participating in the scheme, including 2,300 Boots pharmacies.

The Home Office said that, between January 2021 and March 2021, ‘Ask for ANI’ was accessed more than 35 times by a range of people who have experienced domestic abuse, including both men and women.

The scheme works alongside the charity Hestia’s ‘UK Says No More‘ safe space service, which launched in 2020 to allow people experiencing domestic abuse to use community pharmacy consultation rooms to contact case workers or other support services.

Commenting on the figures, Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical society, said: “As advocates for patient safety, it’s crucial for pharmacies to support individuals experiencing domestic abuse when their home is unsafe.

“The figures shared by Laura Farris underscore the critical role that pharmacists play in identifying and assisting individuals in need of help.

“We commend the dedication of pharmacists across the country who have signed up to the scheme, offering a discreet and accessible pathway to support services for those experiencing domestic abuse, and encourage more pharmacies to participate,” she added.

Pharmacies can sign up to participate in the ‘Ask for ANI’ scheme here.


Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2024, Vol 312, No 7982;312(7982)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.241710

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