Pharmacist wellbeing ‘has patient safety implications'

Pharmacist wellbeing ‘a patient safety issue’, says GPhC

Patient safety and wellbeing is ‘inextricably bound up’ with the wellbeing of the profession, the chief executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has told MPs.

Duncan Rudkin made the comments as part of an evidence session to the Health and Social Care Committee’s pharmacy inquiry, where together with other pharmacy representatives, he highlighted pressures on the workforce – something he said the regulator was ‘very aware’ of.

He spoke specifically about the ‘high profile issue’ of prejudice, discrimination and racism faced by pharmacists that in some cases affected their capability and confidence.

‘We’ve heard some really upsetting [and] distressing examples of stories from colleagues in pharmacy, in different settings, whose confidence and ability to optimise their contribution to patient care has been dented by their experience, for example, of racism in the workplace,’ Mr Rudkin said.

He suggested that the chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) for England’s inclusive pharmacy practice board was helping to raise the profile of the issue, ‘and to challenge all of us to do more, to do better, to tackle discrimination, racism, bullying [and] harassment within the pharmacy workplace’.

More broadly, Mr Rudkin said: ‘We know that that in many ways, members of the profession are having an exceptionally difficult time at the moment.’

‘We're very aware of issues affecting the well-being of the profession. And we're very mindful of the fact that that then has patient safety implications,’ he said.

Also giving evidence at the inquiry, Mark Koziol, chair of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), said that cuts to funding and increased volumes of dispensing meant pharmacists were being ‘forced into a situation where they can't follow all the protocols as they should’.

‘They have to start making decisions as to how to make ends meet, how to deliver services for patients in a deteriorating environment,’ he said.

According to Mr Koziol, non-pharmacist area managers were also asking pharmacists to meet commercial targets, ‘as opposed to clinical arrangements around patients’.

The PDA has previously called for the regulation of non-clinical managers.

Meanwhile, branch sales and cost-cutting measures by pharmacy multiples were causing employees to lose holiday entitlements and pension arrangements, he suggested.

Additional pressures were caused by patients who are frustrated by medicines shortages and who ‘vent their fury’ on pharmacy staff, he said.

‘Morale in community pharmacy currently, and the staffing shortages that continue to be in position, have massively affected the morale of the community pharmacist workforce,’ he said.

What mental health support is available to pharmacists? A note from wellbeing charity Pharmacist Support

Here at Pharmacist Support we understand the pressures of working in pharmacy, and the toll this can take on pharmacists’ mental health.

In order to help prevent mental health issues escalating in our pharmacy family, we have established our Wellbeing Learning Platform, which includes several wellbeing workshops that pharmacists, pharmacy students, and trainees can access for free at a time and place of their choosing. We also offer our Listening Friend service, giving pharmacists the chance to speak confidentially and anonymously to one of our trained pharmacist volunteers, and our counselling service, where pharmacists can receive direct, confidential, psychological support. Individuals can also access mental health and wellbeing information and resources on our website.

For further information on Pharmacist Support, its free and confidential services and campaign activities visit, email [email protected] or call 0808 168 2233.

You can also contact the Samaritans on 116123.

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