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Medication safety officers to spot workplace pressure 'warning signs'

The Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group will train all its medication safety officer (MSO) members to spot the “warning signs of pressure“ in pharmacy staff.

The group (see more details below) – which consists of representatives of all of the larger pharmacy chains, as well as the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) – has enlisted the help of training provider Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).

The training will provide MSOs with the “skills to help support healthcare professionals within our businesses”, the group’s chair Janice Perkins told C+D last week at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress (April 27).

Training for the group’s members will begin in early June, before the group will begin “[looking] at cascading that training down within our organisations”, Ms Perkins, who is also superintendent pharmacist at Well, added.

“It’s about being alert to warning signs of pressure and then working with people to help manage what might be a contributing factor,” Ms Perkins said.

The MSOs will take part in a full day, face-to-face course, which will include training in the ability to “spot signs of mental ill-health” and skills to “support positive wellbeing”. Members will then qualify as “MHFA champions”, the provider’s website states.

“Really tough in community pharmacy”

“There will always be some tension points and some pressures within the working environment and within the pharmacy,” Ms Perkins said. “But there are techniques to help control that [and to] know [what’s] a red flag…and how to raise a concern.”

While Ms Perkins admitted “it’s not always your employer you want to go to”, she said the group will make sure there are “systems in place” so “people know where to go to for help”.

“It’s really tough in community pharmacy,” Ms Perkins stressed.  “It’s really tough in all healthcare professions at the moment.” 

The group has also been working with the charity Pharmacist Support, to “make sure that everyone’s being open and transparent [and] knows who to contact in their organisation”, she added.

Group’s priorities for 2018

The training builds on one of the 11 priorities for 2018 which the group set out in November last year.

These include the aim to “arrange mental health training for medication safety officers to empower them to champion mental health and wellbeing within their organisations”.

Explained: The Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group

When was it created?

Facilitated by the now-defunct Pharmacy Voice, the self-funded group was established in February 2015 by the medication safety officers at the larger community pharmacy chains, as well as the NPA.

What is its aim?

“To regularly meet and openly share and learn from each other – as well as from other safety-conscious industries – [and] consider how learning would be applied across the pharmacy network, then work together to create the opportunities to do so.”

You can read more about the group's sector-wide work plan here.

Who are its members?

The group is chaired by Well superintendent Janice Perkins, and comprises representatives of the following organisations:

  • Well
  • Asda
  • Boots UK
  • Cohens Chemist
  • Day Lewis
  • Dudley Taylor Pharmacies
  • Kamsons Pharmacy
  • Lincolnshire Co-operative
  • Lloydspharmacy
  • Morrisons
  • The National Pharmacy Association
  • NHS Improvement
  • Numark
  • Rowlands Pharmacy
  • Paydens 
  • PCT Healthcare 
  • Superdrug
  • Tesco
  • Weldricks Pharmacy
  • WR Evans 

Where can I find out more?

Full details are available on the group’s website here.

Would you benefit from having a mental health first aid champion in your pharmacy?

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