The C+D Senate stressed the importance of a strong professional relationship with your patients just last month. But maintaining professionalism can prove difficult when your manager has other ideas. The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) explains what to do when your manager's behaviour impacts on your duties as a pharmacist.
You're concerned that your workload is overwhelming to the point where patient safety could be compromised. But raising concerns with your manager has proved futile because they refuse to address or acknowledge the problem.
PDA response: A highly pressured working environment will "significantly increase" the chance of mistakes and harm to patients, warns the PDA's membership services manager Mark Pitt.
He stresses that, as responsible pharmacist, you will be held responsible for those mistakes – regardless of management pressures. "You would face significant criticism for allowing such a situation to continue unchallenged in the event the regulator, coroner or police become involved," Mr Pitt explains.
"It is therefore essential to take immediate steps to maintain patient safety, such as prioritising workload, drafting in extra staff or even considering closing the pharmacy until patient safety issues can be resolved," he says.
Mr Pitt advises any pharmacist in this situation to raise a formal grievance through company procedures, copying the pharmacy superintendent into the communication. He stresses that employees are allowed union representation at these meetings, so advice from a defence organisation or union should be sought "at the earliest stages".
Your manager is pressurising you to conduct MURs and NMS interventions where there appears to be no patient need.
PDA response: The decision to conduct these services should be based on the pharmacist's assessment, not the manager's, stresses Mr Pitt. While many pharmacists have reported pressure to meet service targets, prompting the PDA to write a letter to the government last month, Mr Pitt says pharmacists should avoid giving in to management demands.
"In the first instance, an approach should be made to the pharmacy superintendent to try to resolve this pressure," he advises. If this fails, he suggests elevating the issue to an official grievance meeting, but stresses that employees should seek advice from a union on their personal circumstances.
Your manager won't let you go on what you see as vital training because they don't want to pay for locum cover.
PDA response: Your rights in this situation depend on the nature of the training, advises Mr Pitt. "If the training is to fulfil a business need, then it is reasonable for the employer to facilitate this by releasing the person from the business," he explains. Employers can't expect pharmacists to perform services without adequate training and competencies, for example.
But pharmacists are on shakier ground when it comes to other training matters, Mr Pitt warns. "If the training is more of a personal development matter, the employer is not normally obliged to support this," he says.