Nearly four in 10 pharmacists have sought help for stress in the past year, a C+D poll has found.
Pharmacy leaders blamed increasing work pressures for the findings of the poll, which was conducted over a week ahead of today's (August 23) launch of the C+D Salary Survey 2013.
The poll of 118 respondents suggested that more pharmacists than GPs are seeking help for stress. A survey by GP magazine Pulse this month found that 12 per cent had sought help from pastoral or wellbeing services in the past year.
Rising prescription volumes and pressure to conduct services meant stress was inevitably high in pharmacy, sector leaders told C+D.
"This pressure is the cancer within our profession. Employers just want to make as much money as possible from dispensing" John Murphy, PDA
More on stress levels
Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) dirtector John Murphy warned that "unacceptable workloads" in the profession could put patients at risk.
"This pressure is the cancer within our profession. Employers just want to make as much money as possible from dispensing," he argued. "Unfortunately, it may be that it will take a major patient safety catastrophe for employers to take this issue seriously."
Lindsey Gilpin, pharmacist and founder of online forum Locum Voice, said pharmacists felt they were "wading through treacle" in increasingly tough working conditions. "We're doing more and more prescriptions and getting more and more pressure to do MURs and the new medicine service because those [services] are being used to make up the shortfall in funding," she told C+D.
"You're a bit like a rat on a treadmill – you're using so much energy and that's fine for a while, but eventually you do feel stressed," she said. Ms Gilpin added that the pressures were eating into the amount of time pharmacists could spend with patients – making the job "very frustrating".
Mike Hewitson, owner of Beaminster Pharmacy, Dorset, also reported a decline in job satisfaction. "The sense of fun has gone out of the world of pharmacy – it's the gradual attrition of funding, worsening conditions and increasing workload," he said.
Charity Pharmacist Support told C+D it had seen a 19 per cent increase in the number of calls to its enquiry line this year, partly prompted by stress. "This stems from a whole range of issues including money worries, health problems, workload, issues with colleagues, personal and family issues, pre-exam stress and anxiety for those who have failed," reported charity manager Diane Leicester.
The C+D Salary Survey has uncovered increasing levels of stress in the past two years. The highest rise was among contractors, with three quarters suffering from work-related stress in 2012 compared with just over half in 2011.
The Salary Survey gives you the chance to compare your pay and conditions with your peers. Take the survey today to be in with a chance to win a Kindle Fire.
The year in workplace pressures
August 2013 The PDA urges government to tackle MUR pressure
June 2013 Pharmacist Support says staff cutbacks are increasing workplace stress
May 2013 Community pharmacists found to have poor work-life balance
November 2012 Employees report falling support for stress
October 2012 Pharmacists say workplace pressures are jeopardising patient care
August 2012 Pharmacist Support warns law changes could gag disgruntled employees
Are you suffering from stress at work? Take the C+D Salary Survey 2013