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Community pharmacy burnout levels sky-high as 85% consider quitting

New data from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and Pharmacist Support has found that 93% of the community pharmacy workforce are at risk of burnout, compared to 86% of pharmacy staff in general practice.  

For the fourth year in a row, the proportion of the pharmacy workforce at risk of burnout has remained above 85%, the RPS and pharmacy charity’s fifth annual workforce wellbeing survey has found.

Of the 1,188 pharmacists, pharmacy students and trainees surveyed between October 16 and November 11 2023, 86% were at “high risk” of burning out compared to 88% in 2022, the RPS today (February 22) revealed.

But pharmacists working in the community had the highest “burnout score” of 93%, while the proportion at risk of burnout decreased to 88% and 86% for those working in hospital pharmacy and general practice respectively.

When asked what contributed to their poor mental health and wellbeing, 69% of respondents cited “inadequate staffing”, while 52% said a “lack of work-life balance” was the problem.

The survey also found that 41% of pharmacists reported verbal abuse “primarily” from the public, while 25% said they had faced it from colleagues or managers and 7% of respondents reported experiencing physical abuse at work.


85% “considered leaving”


The new survey data also revealed that 62% of respondents across pharmacy sectors had “considered leaving their current role or the pharmacy profession in the past year” due their job’s impact on their mental health and wellbeing. 

It also found that 12% of respondents had already left their positions in the past year – meaning almost three-quarters (74%) were either thinking of quitting or had already done so.

But the data showed that “a much lower proportion” (67%) of those working in general practice said that they were likely to consider leaving their role, sector or profession compared with those in the community (85%).

In 2022, 61% of pharmacy respondents said that they were considering leaving their job or the profession entirely, while 12% had already done so.

RPS president Professor Claire Anderson said that the survey demonstrates “the human cost of coping with the relentless workplace pressures that pharmacists and trainees experience daily”.

And Pharmacist Support chief executive Danielle Hunt added that the results of the annual joint survey “are yet another stark reminder of the urgent need for action to address the mental health challenges faced by pharmacists”.

“It is imperative that we use this valuable information to inform concrete steps towards creating more supportive and sustainable work environments within the pharmacy profession,” she said.

Meanwhile, C+D’s 2022 Salary Survey last year revealed that 81% of pharmacists employed by community pharmacies had “thought about leaving their job in the past 12 months”, with one Salary Survey respondent telling C+D that they wanted “to leave every day”.

At the time, 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”.

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