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World Pharmacists Day: 9 stress-coping tips for pharmacy teams

In honour of World Pharmacists Day's theme of safe medicines, Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group chair Janice Perkins advises on how to cope with stress in the workplace

The Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group has been bringing together community pharmacy organisations since 2015. The group enables pharmacies to openly share and learn from each other when things go wrong, as well as from other sectors and industries.

We consider how learning from patient safety incidents can be applied across the pharmacy network and wider NHS, and then create the opportunities and resources to deliver it.

In recent years, there’s been a welcome increase in openness about mental health and the importance of mental wellbeing, which has become a priority for our group. To support this initiative, we’ve put together some tips on health and wellbeing for community pharmacy teams.

A happy pharmacy team will be a safer and more effective one, so improving wellbeing will also improve the quality of care provided to your patients every day.

These nine tips are designed to give you some ideas about what to do if you or a team member are feeling under pressure. For more information and advice, visit the website of Pharmacist Support, an independent charity that supports pharmacists and their families.

  1. Talk to your line manager

If you are feeling under pressure, talking to your line manager is a good first step. Have a discussion and explain what you are finding difficult. It's often useful to make a written note of your conversation too. It's important to be honest with yourself and others around you about your feelings.

  1. Talk to colleagues

Talking to colleagues about the reasons for your stress may reveal that they are having similar difficulties. This gives you the opportunity to share ideas about how to manage stress and improve wellbeing.

Although staying in contact with colleagues outside work can be convenient, it’s important to respect other people’s time away from work.

  1. Take a break

No one does their best work when they’re tired or hungry, so always take a break and encourage team members to take theirs too.

  1. Use your holiday

Having time off from work is essential for your wellbeing, so make sure you use your annual leave to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

  1. Consider the need for working overtime

Don’t regularly work extra hours that no one knows about. This may hide problems occurring in your pharmacy and won’t help solve any underlying issues.

  1. Work together

Teamwork is essential for a happy and productive pharmacy. Regular huddles throughout the day can help make sure that everyone is on track, and provide a helpful time for colleagues to voice any concerns they may have.

  1. One job at a time

Dispensaries can be noisy, busy environments with many distractions. That’s why it's important to stay focused on the task in hand. Ensure your team know when it's or is not OK to disturb you.

  1. Try not to take things personally

If people make complaints or raise issues, it can often be stressful and sometimes distressing. Make sure you support your colleagues and don’t take things personally.

  1. You’re doing great

In a pharmacy that is experiencing challenges, it's easy to feel deflated, but remember that this isn't a reflection on your own performance. Keep going, you’re doing a great job!

The Community Pharmacy Safety Group consists of representatives of all of the larger pharmacy chains, as well as the National Pharmacy Association

Pharmacist Support is raising money to support pharmacists in an annual campaign with the hashtag #GoGreen4PS from September 25 until October 31

C+D takes pharmacy pressures to parliament

On September 9, C+D and the charity Pharmacist Support brought together MPs, pharmacy representatives and pharmacists to discuss the rise of stress and workplace pressures among pharmacy teams.

The parliamentary event took place in Portcullis House, Westminster, and was hosted by all-party pharmacy group chair Sir Kevin Barron MP.

You can read C+D editor James Waldron’s address to the event – in which he highlighted disturbing data from C+D readers about the extent of pressures in pharmacies – as well as the key points from each speaker.

If you would like to share your experiences, please email [email protected]

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