Enquiries to the pharmacist charity Pharmacist Support's support line rose by almost 20 per cent last year, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that numbers have continued to climb in 2011. Pharmacist Support helped pharmacists in trouble more than 800 times last year and was involved in more than 4,000 interactions with people seeking information or help via its website, it reported in its annual review of 2010 published this week.
Charity manager Diane Leicester put the increase down to a number of factors, including regulation changes and economic problems. "The General Pharmaceutical Council was getting bedded in during 2010, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society was sorting out its offering to its members. A lot of our calls also came from pre-regs struggling with money," she said.
Ms Leicester also told C+D that there was anecdotal evidence to suggest an increase in the number of calls Pharmacist Support had received in 2011. "We do keep an eye on the figures and it looks as if there's been another increase this year. A lot of the people who failed their exams have been contacting us, and more people have started to call us specifically for money for unpaid placements," she said.
"We've also seen a rise this year in calls related to visa and immigration rules," she added.
Common problems experienced by pharmacists calling the charity over the course of 2010 included pre-registration issues, such as bullying; financial problems; struggling to find work; returning to practice; and employment issues, such as contract issues, recovering money owed and disciplinary proceedings.
The findings seemed to be at odds with C+D's Salary Survey 2011, which found earlier this year that workplace pressures and associated problems appeared to have decreased during 2010.
However, despite the apparent drop, two thirds of pharmacists responding to the survey still reported that they had suffered stress at or as a result of work over the year.