Enquiries to Pharmacist Support rocketed by more than 40 per cent last year, the charity has revealed.
More than 660 pharmacists, pre-reg trainees and pharmacy students contacted the charity by phone or online in 2013, up 43 per cent on the 465 enquiries received in 2012, Pharmacist Support said in its annual review published on Wednesday (September 24).
Employment issues were the biggest cause of concern for pharmacists, making up 42 per cent of their enquiries, the charity told C+D. It was followed by financial issues - which comprised 28 per cent of contacts - and pharmacy regulation and practice, which made up 18 per cent.
Of the calls relating to employment, the most common theme was pharmacists looking for work, followed by disciplinary issues and workplace stress, Pharmacist Support said.
While the proportion of pharmacists among those using the service dropped from 63 per cent in 2012 to 48 per cent in 2013, use by pre-registration trainees rose from 14 per cent to 27 per cent. The most common area of concern for this group was their pre-reg assessment, followed by problems with a tutor.
The 43 per cent jump in enquiries marks a steep rise for the charity, compared to increases of 16 per cent and 15 per cent in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Pharmacist Support manager Diane Leicester-Hallam said she was "surprised" by this increase. The charity had produced a factsheet to aid the growing number of locums who contacted the organisations because they were "struggling to secure work [and] deal with falling rates of pay", she told C+D.
Feeling the pinch
"Some report having to travel significant distances to secure work which, coupled with an increase in living costs, means that many are feeling the pinch," she added.
The charity provided financial assistance to 164 individuals in 2013. It also made 189 referrals to specialist advisers at the Citizens Advice Bureau, who secured more than £1 million for pharmacists in the form of benefits, debt assistance and pay entitlements from employers.
Pharmacist Support's Listening Friends helpline made 261 calls to pharmacists struggling with a range of stressful situations, while its Health Support programme helped 28 people through a variety of addiction issues, it added.