A briefing document – compiled by C+D from the past five years of Salary Survey data – revealed that stress levels among UK pharmacists rose six percentage points between 2016 and 2018.
C+D’s document – which you can download here – was presented by RPS English board chair Sandra Gidley to NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Ridge in a meeting on January 10.
The document also highlights the impact of stress on the public in 2018, with 34% of the 1,067 pharmacists who responded to last year’s survey saying it had the greatest effect on their service to patients.
Stress-related problems affecting readers in 2018 included: trouble sleeping, cited by 43% of pharmacists; depression (27%); drinking more than usual (11%); and suicidal thoughts (6%).
“Greatly increased workloads”
Speaking to C+D after her meeting with Dr Ridge, Ms Gidley said: “All of those working in pharmacy will not be surprised that stress levels have increased, because many pharmacists are experiencing a greatly increased workload, which is not great for patient safety.”
Referring to the GP Health Service – set up by the NHS in 2017 to “help doctors with issues relating to a mental health concern, including stress or depression” – Ms Gidley said the RPS “believes this should be extended to pharmacists and other health professionals as well. We will be working with others to try and make this a reality.”
“However, we do know it took medics eight years to achieve [this service],” she said. “We hope that by showing data, such as from the C+D survey…we can make the case [to] achieve this in a significantly shorter time scale.”
Ms Gidley stressed that NHS England has been “broadly supportive” of this agenda and the RPS “will be working with them to try and further this”.
In the meantime, the RPS is “deciding its next steps”, Ms Gidley added, “including the possibility of a roundtable meeting with other relevant pharmacy organisations from all sectors to try and progress this”.
“C+D will continue to pressure the government”
Editor James Waldron said C+D is “proud that the time so many readers dedicate to completing the Salary Survey each year can be put to such positive use”.
“The first-hand accounts of readers struggling under the weight of unsustainable workload pressures – and the impact on their physical and mental health – is deeply concerning.
“C+D is pleased to see the RPS is willing to take this data to England’s most senior pharmacist, and throughout 2019 we will continue to pressure the government to take firm action to address this critical issue.”
NHS England told C+D this morning: “We continue to work with the RPS and others on the issues facing independent community pharmacists and their teams.”