Community pharmacy teams will now be able to access NHS-funded mental health and wellbeing support services during the Covid-19 pandemic, The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has announced. 

Following months of campaigning from RPS for equal access for pharmacy teams to NHS-funded mental health and wellbeing services, NHS England and improvement have now confirmed that pharmacy teams in England will be able to access the much ‘deserved’ support.  

Before now, support was only available to staff who were directly employed by the NHS, which excluded pharmacy staff. 

From today, pharmacy teams will be able to access help through a mental health support line, as part of a wider package of measures to support healthcare staff during the pandemic.

Welcome support

Chair of the RPS in England, Professor Claire Anderson, welcomed the ‘overdue’ change and said, ‘supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our frontline staff is needed more than ever before.’

Ms Anderson also emphasised the importance of the support following the added pressure pharmacy teams are experiencing because of coronavirus. 

‘[Pharmacists] wellbeing is more crucial than ever to the continued delivery of essential services in the fight against Covid-19. We know that prevention is better than cure so we will continue to fight to make sure the pressures on pharmacy teams are reduced.

‘Pharmacy teams are working flat out on the frontline to help patients during the pandemic and will now be able to get high quality mental health and wellbeing support’, she said. 

She also noted that many pharmacy teams were struggling with issues surrounding wellbeing ‘long before coronavirus hit’. 

‘A staggering 84% of pharmacists we surveyed last year told us they were at high risk of burnout’, and therefore pharmacy teams ‘need solutions to [these] problems that have caused such extensive mental health distress,’ Ms Anderson said. 

Chief Executive at Pharmacist Support, Danielle Hunt, said that her team was ‘delighted’ with the news that pharmacists and their teams will have access to the support.

She said: ‘Now more than ever, we feel we all need to work together to support those on the front line through this challenging time.’ 

This comes as pharmacies have been told they must remain open over Easter Holiday weekend, despite PSNC insisting the time off is 'necessary' following a very busy few weeks.