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MPs wade into pharmacy workplace pressure debate

All party pharmacy group says responsibility for reducing pressures lies with every part of the sector

A group of MPs has called on employers, pharmacy leaders and the regulator to take responsibility for ensuring pharmacists are protected from workplace pressures.

As part of its report on community pharmacy, published last week (June 29), the all party pharmacy group (APPG) said it had "heard about the risk that the development of new services adds to workplace pressure for pharmacy teams".

Hub-and-spoke could free up time

Increasing automation in pharmacy – as proposed in the Department of Health’s consultation on hub-and-spoke dispensing – could free up time for pharmacists to provide more clinical services, such as medicines use reviews (MURs) and the new medicine service (NMS), the APPG said in the report.

But creating the extra capacity to perform more clinical services could heap more pressure on pharmacists to achieve targets and financial incentives, the group warned.

Duty to patients trumps other concerns

“Pharmacy teams have a professional duty to their patients, and this must always trump other concerns," the APPG said. "Community pharmacy needs a culture that supports professionals to discharge their duties in the best interest of patients at all times."

“Responsibility for this rests with employers, individual professionals, the professional leadership bodies and the regulator," it added.

The APPG's statement comes after the General Pharmaceutical Council announced it would undertake a “programme of work” later this year to tackle growing concerns about workplace pressures. The announcement was met with a mixed response from the profession, including the RPS


What were the APPG’s other conclusions?

  • The sector should focus on "technology, professionalism and integration".
  • NHS England’s review of clinical services “will lead to continued uncertainty for community pharmacy”.
  • The scheme to employ an extra 1,500 practice pharmacists “should not come at the expense of… patients’ ability to visit a community pharmacy instead of the GP surgery”.
  • There is no evidence “in support of any specific number of pharmacies” across the UK. "If the NHS wants a clinically driven service based on face-to-face interactions, in our view a larger number of pharmacies is required." 

  • The government and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) should resume negotiations on a national minor ailments service.

  • The review of services in the community pharmacy contractual framework should include an assessment for the potential for new services.
  • The pharmacy integration fund should not be used to top up funding shortfalls for existing services.

At C+D, we also want to raise awareness of the experiences of pharmacists who are struggling under workplace pressures – whether that’s from tough targets, inflexible area managers or under-staffing. So send your examples to [email protected], with the heading ‘pharmacy pressures’, and make sure to state if you want us to keep your identity anonymous.

Does your employer protect you from workplace pressure? 

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

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