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GPhC ‘very aware’ of poor pharmacist wellbeing, MPs told

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) chief executive Duncan Rudkin has told MPs that poor pharmacist wellbeing has “patient safety implications”.

Wellbeing is one of the biggest issues facing the pharmacy workforce, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin told MPs at the parliamentary pharmacy inquiry this week (January 16).

Mr Rudkin said that pharmacy professionals were “having an exceptionally difficult time” and that the regulator is “very aware of issues affecting the wellbeing of the profession”.

And he added that the wellbeing issues experienced by pharmacists had “patient safety implications” because the “safety and wellbeing” of patients is “inextricably bound up with the wellbeing of the profession”.

Read more: PDA slams regulator and CPhO for normalising ‘unsafe practices’

Meanwhile, Mr Rudkin told MPs that pharmacy professionals need to be “enabled and supported” by the “various authorities” if they are to successfully “maximise” their practice and take advantage of new opportunities.

It came after C+D reported that the PDA had criticised a letter written by Mr Rudkin and NHS chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) David Webb as leading to the “normalisation of unsafe practices”, saying that their approach may “endanger” the wellbeing of pharmacists. 

 

“Deteriorating environment”

 

Also giving evidence at the session, Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) chair Mark Koziol told MPs that pharmacist interactions with sector charity Pharmacist Support were at “record-breaking levels”.

Mr Koziol said that government funding cuts had led to “massive staffing cuts” in pharmacy businesses, while dispensing volumes had “gone up and up and up”. 

With medicines shortages becoming an acute problem, he added that the result was “community pharmacists facing lots of violence and abuse”.

Read more: Pharmacist Support reveals new wellbeing course for managers

These factors, he said, have had “a huge effect” on workforce morale.

Mr Koziol told MPs that “large corporate businesses” that run many community pharmacies are concerned with “buying and selling” premises and that as a result, pharmacy staff experienced cuts to their pensions, holiday time and “other arrangements”.

He said that this “deteriorating environment” means that pharmacy staff are unable to “follow all the protocols” and have to make decisions about “how to make ends meet”.

Read more: Funded counselling sessions rocket 200% in a year, sector’s charity says

And he also noted tensions between “non-pharmacist area managers” who prioritise commercial targets and pharmacists who treat “clinical arrangements” for patients as most important. 

Incoming president of the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) Nicola Stockmann said that pharmacy staff are at the “frontline” and therefore experience the “frustrations” of “frightened” patients who cannot access medicines due to shortages.

 

Time for support

 

Last week, C+D revealed that Pharmacist Support was launching a new “embracing a workplace wellbeing culture” course, designed to support “current and aspiring pharmacy managers and leaders” in creating a more “positive and supportive” work environment to tackle burnout in the sector.

In July, Pharmacist Support’s annual impact report revealed that it had logged a 214% increase in funded counselling sessions between 2021 and 2022.

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