More than half of pharmacists have had to ‘reconsider their career’ as a result of burnout, research has revealed.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the charity Pharmacist Support surveyed over 1,300 pharmacists during October and November 2019 to find out the impact of workplace pressures on their mental health and wellbeing.
The joint research, announced today (10 December), found that 52% of 1,324 respondents said that ‘they felt they have had to reconsider their career and no longer spend enough time with family and friends’.
A ‘shocking’ 80% said that exhaustion had put them at high or very high risk of burnout, the RPS added.
The research also revealed that nearly three-quarters (74%) of pharmacists said that their working life or training had had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing ‘at some point’.
These ‘unacceptable’ consequences of workplace stress have three key causes, according to the RPS.
It said: ‘One in five pharmacists (21%) cited a lack of support staff as the main reason for their poor mental health and wellbeing. The same proportion (21%) quoted unrealistic expectations from their manager or organisation as a key cause.‘
Almost half (44%) were ‘concerned about potentially making mistakes’ or providing a poor-quality service to their patients, the membership body added.
Urgent need for support
RPS president Sandra Gidley said: ‘It’s incredibly tough in frontline practice right now. Demands are increasing and resources are scarce.
‘We are the third largest health profession but come bottom in workplace mental health provision.'
Ms Gidley reiterated her call for all pharmacists to have access to NHS-funded mental health support services – which are now available to all doctors and dentists – so that they can ‘continue to provide safe and effective care’.
She said: ‘The Government must address this as a matter of urgency. The NHS is at risk of creating workforce inequalities by providing support services for some staff and not others.
‘Pharmacy can be a fantastic career full of interest and a sense of achievement, but our survey shows that workplace pressures are becoming overwhelming.’
Retaining pharmacists is ‘essential’ to the future success of the NHS, so addressing workplace pressures ‘must be a core part’ of this, Ms Gidley added.
Rising demand for services
Pharmacist Support chief Danielle Hunt said: ‘At Pharmacist Support we hear from people every day struggling to deal with the pressures faced at work, so sadly we are not surprised by the statistics around stress and burnout revealed through this survey.
‘Unfortunately for some, by the time they reach out for help, they have already reached crisis point.'
The charity has seen demand for its services ‘increase significantly’ over recent years, she added.
A more detailed analysis of the data will be published in Spring 2020 ‘to inform a roundtable‘ exploring solutions with the Government, the NHS and employers, the RPS added.
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