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These are tough times for community pharmacy – so tell us your experiences

C+D needs your help to highlight the issues that are facing community pharmacists and their teams, says Beth Kennedy

When I think of the challenges that have plagued the community pharmacy sector this year, a few recurring issues immediately spring to mind.

First things first – the elephant in the room – pharmacy closures. In July, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) admitted that there had been over 200 net closures in England in 2023 alone. But with a large number of supermarket pharmacies closing their doors and plans for Boots to permanently shutter 300 of its branches over the coming months, that number may be far higher.

Read more: 'Pharmacy wastelands’: Over 200 net closures in 2023 so far, DH admits

And then there’s that age-old problem: pharmacy funding – and with it my perpetual plea for the government to stump up extra cash. For despite a promised (although as-yet unseen) £645 million to boost clinical services in England and a 6% boost to Scottish community pharmacy’s global sum, contractors are still feeling the pinch, with pharmacists warning that pharmacy funding is “in a state of hibernation”.

If that weren’t enough, community pharmacy is facing a workforce crisis. Amid rising workplace pressures, it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain staff in community roles as professionals flock to roles in GP practices and other clinical settings.

Catch up with C+D’s latest Big Debate, which asked: Should pharmacist recruitment into the ARRS be halted?

And, of course, there are still tensions between locums looking to negotiate higher hourly rates and contractors struggling to keep up with higher post-pandemic pay.

There are other issues, too – some of them deeply concerning. C+D’s coverage of a man who exposed himself in three different pharmacies across the North East points to a sinister pattern of sexual harassment that may sadly be all too familiar to many pharmacy workers.

Harassment of any kind has no place in any workplace, and pharmacy is no exception. But while stories such as these indicate that these incidents may be more widespread than any of us would like to think, it’s difficult to gauge the scale of the issue.

Read more: C+D Salary Survey 2023: Tell us your experiences of working in pharmacy

That’s why this year’s C+D Salary Survey, which launched last week (October 27), is explicitly asking respondents whether they have experienced sexual harassment as a result of work in the past year. While tracking responses to this question may only go so far to uncovering the scale of the issue, it’s a start.

The brilliant C+D Salary Survey has been tracking vital trends in community pharmacy – from fluctuating locum rates and salaries for employee pharmacists to workplace stress – since 2008. It’s vital that you help us continue our work in this area, so I urge you to take just 10 minutes out of your day to complete the survey.

Share your experiences with us to help form a clear picture of community pharmacy in 2023. Your responses to the Salary Survey 2022 alone have uncovered gender pay gaps, the shocking prevalence of unsafe staffing levels and working conditions at some of the biggest pharmacy companies in the country.

These are tough times for our sector. Amid a time of great change for UK community pharmacy, it’s never been more important to have your say.

Take the C+D Salary Survey 2023 here for your chance to win a £20 Just Eat Voucher or a £200 John Lewis voucher

Beth Kennedy is the editor of C+D 

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