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Eight in 10 employee pharmacists considered quitting in 2022

More than 80% of UK pharmacists employed by community pharmacies considered leaving their job in 2022, C+D’s annual Salary Survey has revealed.

The 2022 survey, which polled 392 employee pharmacists, found that 81% had ‘thought about leaving their job in the past 12 months’.

Of those 392 respondents, 42.6% had actively looked for another job.

Read more: Revealed: The average locum pharmacist pay rate in 2022

The survey also found that a quarter (75%) of 204 pharmacy support staff respondents – including pharmacy technicians and counter assistants – said they had considered leaving their job in the 12 months leading up to October 2022.

A combined 79% of 596 pharmacy workers said they had considered leaving their job in the past 12 months, with 44.2% of these saying they had actively looked for other work.


“I want to leave every day”


Many pharmacist respondents to the survey revealed they were thinking of giving up salaried work to become locum pharmacists, or even moving away from pharmacy entirely.

“I sometimes feel I could earn a lot more working as a locum and have more freedom,” one anonymous branch manager respondent told C+D.

Read more: At a glance: Compare how locum rates vary across Great Britain

They added that they “worry weekly” that the owners of the “small independent” pharmacy they work at “will sell or close the pharmacy” as they “[see] how much the cost of drugs is going up”.

And they said that if remote supervision comes into practice, they are worried that they will be “made redundant”.

“I want to leave every day,” another pharmacist respondent said.


“The profession is not what it once was”


A superintendent community pharmacist responding to the survey revealed that they would be leaving the profession last month, saying that the word “undervalued” would be “to put it lightly”.

Read more: Locuming in 2022: ‘A game of cat and mouse’

“[The job] is not what it once”, they said, adding that “additional services mean additional money for contractors, higher workload for pharmacists delivering the services and the same payday at the end”.

Another branch manager respondent told C+D they were “looking at changing career out of pharmacy totally”.


“No surprise”


Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) director Paul Day told C+D that “too many pharmacists are burning out, with damaged wellbeing and mental health, because of what they have to do to keep their patients safe”.

“It's no surprise for those who understand conditions at the frontline that so many then opt to leave,” he said.

Read more: PSNC rejects ‘totally inadequate’ proposals to relieve sector pressures

Mr Day added that employers “need to stop looking to blame others as their first response to recruitment and retention challenges”.

Instead, they should “ask what they can do to improve the things they could change for the better”, he said.

“Although pharmacy businesses cannot control every aspect of the working environment, they do have responsibility for many of those factors, including the quality of people management, communication, and the respect they give pharmacists as health professionals within their company,” he told C+D.

Read more: Striking ‘not an option’ for pharmacy businesses, PSNC warns contractors

Meanwhile, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) policy and practice lead for England Heidi Wright said C+D’s new data highlights that pharmacists and their teams “are under enormous pressures”.

The RPS’ own 2022 workforce wellbeing survey last month showed that 73% of pharmacists had considered leaving their role or the profession.

It comes as the pharmacy negotiator has revealed that it has rejected “totally inadequate” government proposals to relieve pressure on pharmacists – but that legal advice suggests strike action is “not an option” for pharmacy businesses.


Data from the 2022 Salary Survey last week revealed that the average locum rate has rocketed to a new record high for a second year in a row, reaching £33.30 per hour in 2022.


The C+D Salary Survey 2022 ran between October 25 2022 and January 20 2023 and was completed by a total of 1,480 pharmacists and pharmacy staff.


See all the coverage so far on the C+D Salary Survey hub

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