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Pharmacy teams flag staffing level concerns amid mounting workloads

ACPTs, pharmacy technicians, dispensary assistants and MCAs have used the C+D Salary Survey 2021 to flag concerns about decreasing numbers of staff and increasing amounts of work.

Of the 172 accuracy checking pharmacy technicians (ACPT) and pharmacy technicians who responded to the C+D Salary Survey 2021 – which ran between November 26 and December 31 – the majority said staffing levels were not adequate in their pharmacy.

A total of 82% and 81% of ACPT and pharmacy technician respondents respectively reported that staffing levels were either “quite low” or “so low it is dangerous”. This was the same case for 86% and 87% of the 192 dispensary assistants and 19 medicines counter assistants (MCAs) responding to the 2021 survey.

One ACPT respondent said: “On some days, it feels we are heading towards unsafe conditions, especially if any more staff leave.”

Meanwhile, a dispensary assistant commented: “Low staff levels are made near impossible when sickness/holidays mean absences. There is no extra help to cover absent staff and no extra budget to increase staff numbers.”

Pharmacy staff are feeling the effects of increased workload across the pharmacy network, according to the C+D Salary Survey 2021, and many blamed a “lack of staff” or failure to replace staff that have left among the contributing factors.

“There’s not enough staff…and now the workload is hideous for me and a dispenser,” one ACPT said.

“We are understaffed and trying to prioritise jobs with only two members of staff. Before last year, we had four/five team members,” another added.


Consequences of high stress and unrealistic workloads



Stress is rated as “very high” or “high” for 66% of ACPT respondents, 58% of pharmacy technicians, 66% of dispensary assistants and 40% of MCAs responding to the survey.


Meanwhile, workload is described as “often” or “always unrealistic” by 73% of ACPTs; 65% of pharmacy technicians; 77% of dispensary assistants; and 67% of MCAs.


Pharmacy staff respondents flagged concerns that the rise in workload and lack of staff to support this has led to an “increase in dispensing errors/near misses” (according to 54% of ACPTs) or the delivery of “poor quality services” (according to 24% of MCAs).


The increased workload and stress have “affected how confident I am with dealing with customers, and I am feeling more sensitive”, according to one pharmacy technician respondent. While one dispensary assistant said they “can’t concentrate on work properly and I’m making mistakes”.

On a personal level, several respondents in all staff groups reported having trouble sleeping, with some suffering from “constant tiredness” and several reporting a feeling of “poor motivation”.


What issues are dispensary assistants facing?


Here’s a snapshot of what dispensary assistants have experienced over the past 12 months.


The C+D Salary Survey 2021 ran between November 26 and December 31 and was completed by a total of 1,295 pharmacists and pharmacy staff.

Catch up with C+D’s most recent Big Debate which asked: Is there a shortage of community pharmacists?

What do you make of the C+D Salary Survey 2021 results so far? Catch up on the coverage and share your experiences on the C+D Community

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