UK pharmacies are experiencing a growing amount of strain including; longer hours, less staff support, reimbursement challenges and a growing list of pharmacy services being offered to customers. Research carried out by Pharmacy Magazine found that three quarters of pharmacists’ surveyed are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ concerned about coping with their current workload.1

The research also found that those who work in multiples suffer from greater stress and workload strain than independent outlets. The main areas of stress identified were as follows:

  • Meeting targets
  • Staffing
  • Funding
  • Stock shortages
  • Regulatory demands
  • GPhC inspections

Mind (Mental Health Charity) published their own study in 2016 which supported the Pharmacy Magazine findings. Mind found that 88% of primary care workers surveyed found their work stressful with 48% of pharmacists reporting sleep issues and a worrying 6% reportedly having suicidal thoughts.2

So what's being done? The GPhC (General Pharmaceutical Council) held a conference last October to better understand the pressures its members are experiencing. Since the conference, the GPhC has released their 2017-20 Strategic Plan, outlining their goal to ‘promote learning and improvement’. They plan to do this by collecting information from their own work and the work of others, so that they can share learning and promote improvement.3

Unfortunately, it is clear that stress continues to remains a huge factor within pharmacies, and as further changes are made in line with the Carter report, strain is undoubtedly going to increase.

With Pharmacy Magazine finding most pharmacies struggling to identify any individual organisation as a source of support.4 The GPhC’s plan could be quite timely. Although the plan itself may sound vague, it appears to be a positive step forward for pharmacies. Could this be the start of real change in tackling stress in pharmacy? Time will tell.

References

Stress testing the profession: pharmacists struggling [online] Viewed January 2018 http://www.pharmacymagazine.co.uk/stress-testing-the-profession

Pharmacists among the most stressed professions [online] Viewed January 2018 https://www.chemistanddruggist.co.uk/news/pharmacists-among-most-stressed-professions

General Pharmaceutical Council Strategic Plan 2017-20 [online] Viewed January 2018 https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/sites/default/files/gphc_strategic_plan_2017-20.pdf

Stress testing the profession: pharmacists struggling [online] Viewed January 2018 http://www.pharmacymagazine.co.uk/stress-testing-the-profession