Over half of all community pharmacists are not getting enough rest, according to a recent survey by a pharmacy advocacy group. 

A survey conducted by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) in 2019 found that 59.5% of the over 1,000 community pharmacists surveyed do not believe they are getting adequate rest as part of their job. The figure has risen by 10% since 2018. 

Pharmacists ‘must’ be able to take their expected contractual breaks and rest periods, and any additional breaks as they require, the PDA said. Pharmacists must be able to have these breaks in order ‘to be alert at work,’ and ‘keep patients safe,’ it added. 

Shortages to blame

Al Patel, a contractor at Lee Pharmacy in south east London, blames this lack of rest on workload, which he believes has ‘increased’ over the last few years - specifically due to medicine shortages. ‘I’m standing up all day, don’t have a lunch break and spend a lot of my time trying to get hold of medicines - stock control is a big problem,' he told The Pharmacist.

‘The physical exhaustion is expected and is typical of most pharmacists because, like me, they’re standing up for 10 hours a day.  

‘Now I’m not only physically tired but I’m mentally tired as well because it’s all so draining.'

‘The pressure is just not sustainable’, added Ade Williams, superintendent pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy, an independent healthy living pharmacy in Bristol.

Respect for the public

The survey results, published last week, also revealed that 7 in 10 pharmacists believe their clinical judgement is respected by the public - a 10% increase from last year. 

Mr Williams puts this growth in respect for clinical judgement down to ‘perception’ and the positive knock-on effect this has had on pharmacists. ‘The NHS is investing in a lot of good campaigns to promote pharmacists so there’s that change in perception from the public and other health professionals,’ he said. 

‘But also, we as pharmacists are responding to that, as people value and trust us more our confidence and competence grows.’  

The overall physical safety of pharmacists has risen slightly, from 77% to 80% in the last year, according to the survey.

Alima Batchelor, Head of Policy at PDA said: ‘While the results are slightly improved from the previous survey, there is still a long way to go to significantly improve safety.’