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‘Pharmacy teams are overwhelmed by the sheer workload’

Harpreet Chana says the next six months for pharmacy professionals “is a stark prospect”

Pharmacy teams should have a disaster plan to combat the impact of a second wave of COVID-19, says a mental health expert

The second wave of COVID-19 is sweeping through the UK, following one that pushed pharmacies across the country to the brink, raising the question of whether pharmacy professionals will be able to weather the pressure once more.

In the latest C+D podcast, Harpreet Chana, founder of the Mental Wealth coaching academy, discusses the long-term mental health effects of COVID-19 on the pharmacy team with C+D clinical editor Naimah Callachand.

“I'm hearing a lot from colleagues that they feel absolutely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work they've got to do,” she says. The podcast offers a new follow-up interview with Ms Chana after her appearance on C+D’s webinar on September 24 at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress, which explored the range of effects of ‘long COVID’ on patients.

From a mental health perspective, the next six months for pharmacy professionals are “a really stark prospect”, Ms Chana says in the new podcast. The second wave could bring the problems seen in spring of stress, staff shortages and financial pressures, she says.

Learning from their experiences from the last six months, pharmacy teams should collaborate on a “disaster recovery or contingency plan” to prepare for how they would cope with increased patient demand, she says.

“There are certain things that we can put in place now, to ensure that some of the things that caught us off-guard last time we can prepare ourselves [for] this time,” she says.

Measures could include protecting staff wellbeing through regular breaks. Advising patients against stockpiling items, which Ms Chana has seen a surge of recently, is an important part of the role of pharmacy teams, she says.

Pharmacy teams can access additional support and resources from Pharmacist Support, as well as other mental health charities such as Mind.

You can listen to the podcast below. Alternatively, subscribe to C+D's podcasts on iTunes or by searching “Chemist+Druggist podcast” on your preferred Android podcast app.


Please note, the sound quality of this podcast may be affected as it has been recorded remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Does your pharmacy have a plan for handling the second wave of COVID-19?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Funny how pharmacies are sinking under the increased volume of work and yet Boots and Lloyds have both stated Covid pressures as reasons for closing stores. Makes you think that the nuts and bolts of pharmacy work aren't correctly funded doesn't it, although I know that that could never happen.......

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

I know its a novel approach but you could do what my 3 shops have done.  Evaluate staffing levels against the new workload levels and realise things were getting stretched for all branches.  Then surprisingly we employed more staff so we could cope!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Dynamic staffing is a very good strategy. You could easily algorithm it to predict when you need additional staff and for how long to keep it viable too! 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

The best plan I've heard so far is:

Step 1) Locate the darkest corner of the dispensary, ideally also with the best acoustics.

Step 2) Adopt the fetal position in the aforementioned corner.

Step 3) Wail like a banshee, if you located an area with good acoustics, your wails will resonate loudly throughout the rest of the pharmacy premises.

Step 4) Get signed off for work-related stress disorder.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

You don't even need to do that. Just say you've been in contact with a positive case

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