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AIMp: Pharmacies can’t rely on government for support with pressures

The sector has to “look after” itself, rather than seek support from the government when it comes to workplace pressure, AIMp chair Peter Cattee has said.

Mr Cattee “fully acknowledges” the pressure that pharmacy staff are under, but argued the sector “should not look to the government at all” for support, during a session at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham yesterday (October 6).

Findings from the C+D Salary Survey 2018 revealed that stress levels among readers have now reached 74%, while 61% of respondents to a Pharmacist Support survey called for more help with stress at work.

When asked by C+D what non-monetary support the government should offer to pharmacists struggling with workload pressures, Mr Cattee said it is “up to us to reorganise our processes internally wherever possible”.

Mr Cattee, who was one of four speakers on a panel of sector representatives, added that Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) members are “self-supporting, self-motivated and they're driven by taking control of their own destiny”.

The government has sent a “clear signal” that it will not “contemplate a continued state cost” to support pharmacy teams, he added.

CCA: Critically important to look after workforce

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, suggested that the government “does not see it as their job” to “support the interests of commercial businesses” and it is the “job of the sector” to look after its staff.

“I think it's critically important that everybody from small independents to large multiples looks after their workforce in the best way possible [and] make sure they are in the best place possible to deliver the care that we need them to do,” he added.

PSNC: Capacity problem is worse than cost

Answering the same question, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Simon Dukes said: “The capacity problem within community pharmacy is actually more pressing and more difficult than the cost problem.”

“We know what the costs are and we know that more money is going to help. But when it comes to capacity, there are only so many hours in the day,” he said.

The five-year funding deal, which came into force this month, offers opportunities for “efficiencies” to be made, Mr Dukes added. But he admitted “every pharmacy I've been to is completely full on and [asking]: ‘How on earth do we build in the time in order to perform these services?’”

The phasing out of medicines use reviews will free up some staff capacity, “but only a bit”, he predicted.

Contractors then have to look to other areas, such as automation and utilising hub-and-spoke dispensing, Mr Dukes added.

NPA: Difficult to achieve desired efficiencies

Mark Lyonette, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, said although there are efficiencies to be made in the pharmacy contract, it is “very hard to see how many, if any, of those are going to be delivered” within that five-year period of flat funding.

NHS England and the government have been “really quite gung-ho about the level of those efficiencies”, he said.

“From our members' experience and the work that we've done on hub-and-spoke…it's not clear to us that those efficiencies are that easily driven, if at all”, Mr Lyonette told delegates.

Achieving the government’s desired “efficiencies” within the five-year contract will be “one of the most difficult parts”, he added.

C+D takes pharmacy pressures to parliament

Last month, 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]

What measures would help resolve workplace stress in pharmacy?

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