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by Clare Morrison, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Scotland
02 December 2021
Associate Feature: Why action is needed now to support the pharmacy workforce

Associate Feature: Why action is needed now to support the pharmacy workforce

Pharmacy, like other health professions, is under significant pressure. Our annual survey of the pharmacy workforce’s wellbeing will shortly be published. It makes for grim reading: 89 per cent at high risk of burnout, with 68 per cent stating that work negatively impacts their mental health and wellbeing.  

Some of the reasons for this are exactly as you might imagine: long hours, lack of work-life balance and inadequate staffing. But there are two further issues that need to be explored.  

The first is a lack of rest breaks. Our survey found a shocking 57 per cent of respondents were unable to take a break at all during their working day. This is not just a wellbeing issue, it’s a patient safety issue too.

Action is required to ensure adequate breaks are enabled and cultural change is needed so that pharmacists, NHS organisations, employers, the Scottish Government and the public recognise that breaks are essential.  

Second is a reticence to use wellbeing services. The National Wellbeing Hub is a fantastic resource but pharmacists aren’t accessing it. In our survey, 78 per cent of respondents were aware of wellbeing services but only 14 per cent accessed them, with 38 per cent stating they were not comfortable to do so. Barriers included a lack of time, concerns about confidentiality and fears of an impact on careers. This must be tackled. 

Poor wellbeing is being compounded by another problem: the shortage of pharmacists and pharmacy staff across all sectors in Scotland. Proper workforce planning and more training places are needed.

However, these will take time. Immediate action is essential to manage workload and improve workforce wellbeing. This means prioritising work, making processes more efficient, increasing the proportion of planned (scheduled) work, and prioritising digital solutions. With 89 per cent of the workforce at risk of burnout, we need the government to take action now, before it’s too late.  

Clare Morrison is director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland

This article was sponsored by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society

 

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