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Are contractors buckling under the pressure?

Ongoing funding cut uncertainty is hard to deal with, says James Waldron

Are contractors heading for burnout? It’s the stark question posed by this week’s lead feature. The past nine months have been an emotional rollercoaster for some pharmacists, with funding cuts in England looming ever closer, only to be delayed last week – a month before they were finally scheduled to hit.*

Of course, all parts of the pharmacy team – and the UK – are under added pressure at the moment. Recent C+D headlines speak for themselves, whether it’s locums boycotting Tesco over rate cuts and a perceived lack of staff support or employees complaining of service target pressures at the multiples. But as contractors brace themselves for a renewed period of financial uncertainty, we thought it was time to look at how pharmacy owners are holding up.

If comments by Xrayser and Umesh Modi are anything to go by, they remain trapped in a state of limbo. While Xrayser outlines his ongoing dilemma of whether to “invest in staff or services, or cut costs”, accountant Mr Modi describes clients who are caught in a “vicious cycle” of decreasing revenue caused by pre-emptive redundancies.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Funding cut concerns appear to mask deeper workplace problems caused by piles of paperwork and an avalanche of admin. Judging by the results of C+D’s most recent Salary Survey, these issues are seeping into contractors’ personal lives – how else can you explain the startling statistics that 80% are suffering from stress and 54% have trouble sleeping? Factor in that the survey was conducted before the 6% cut to the global sum in England was even announced, and it’s clear the sector is struggling.

So what can be done to help? Pharmacist Support’s Diane Leicester-Hallam offers some practical tips for individuals to avoid burnout in this week's issue, but there also needs to be a sector-wide strategy to deal with this problem. Perhaps the General Pharmaceutical Council’s “programme of work” into pharmacy pressures will offer a long-term solution when it kicks off next month.

If you have any suggestions for how the situation should be addressed – whether that’s tighter regulation to prevent a target-driven culture in pharmacy, or ensuring the whole team gets a decent lunch break – send them to [email protected] and we will pass them on to the regulator.

*The government has since announced that the full details of its funding "package" for pharmacy will be announced in mid-October.

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Pharmacy Dispenser/ Technician
Bethnal Green North, London
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