At the start of the pandemic, as other HCPs stopped seeing patients face to face, community pharmacies became the first port of call for most. People rang us about blood tests, X-rays, tooth infections, mental health issues, and a long list of other ailments that we don’t normally deal with.
Over a year and half later, these issues remain. Pharmacies have struggled financially for years, and now we have had more pressure due to Covid-19.
With the increased contact with pharmacists, patients have now built up a reliance on our services. They expect the pharmacy to order their medicines on an auto basis, and then also remind them to collect them, or to deliver them to them at home. We have had patients go without medication, and then shift the responsibility on to us as they ‘didn’t get a text’.
The change to electronic prescribing has meant patients don’t now ‘see’ or collect their prescription. As they cannot visualise the process, they often perceive it to be a quicker service all round. Patients typically order their medication often one to two days before they run out, and then of course immediately race to the pharmacy to collect them. They forget we are not Amazon.
Patients have felt isolated at home, and phone calls with the pharmacy can be long as they air all their grievances with the NHS with us. This has left staff unable to work efficiently, as time is taken just putting minds at ease by talking.
The feeling of ‘have I forgotten something?’ remains with me every evening after work. This puts pressure on my own mental health and it’s extremely draining.
I am now trying to educate patients that their medication and health is primarily their responsibility.
We have hundreds of patients, but they are only looking after themselves or caring for their family, and the onus is on them.
Pharmacists need to start educating patients. Let them know that their medication is their responsibility. Display notices, share on social media and have a chat with the regular offenders.
We are here to help, not babysit!