Layer 1

Workplace pressures – what do the pharmacy bodies think?

RPS: Additional media scrutiny about target pressures should not be ignored

The RPS has received concerns about professional autonomy, while Pharmacy Voice warns government plans could "exacerbate" pressures

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has urged the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to “move quickly from words to action” during its “programme of work” on pressures in pharmacy.

The regulator announced last week (June 15) that it will “address the issues raised” by a Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) survey on how target pressures compromise patient safety.

As well as hosting an event on the topic in October, it will also meet with a range of stakeholders, including pharmacy owners, to find out how they support their staff to "do the right thing in the first place", it said.

"Significant concerns" about autonomy

In response to the news, the RPS said it has been contacted by pharmacists raising “significant concerns” about professional autonomy, safe staffing levels, workload and rest breaks. Many of these pharmacists have also raised these issues with the GPhC, it added.

“Additional scrutiny” about target pressures in the Guardian’s coverage of the PDA’s survey in April should not be ignored, “however unfortunate the timing” , the RPS stressed.

It expects to play a “key role” in the GPhC’s discussions on target pressures, and urged trade bodies such as Pharmacy Voice to work with employers to “bring about a new covenant between the profession and those that employ them”, it said.

“The profession and patients need the GPhC and employers to make the rhetoric of professional autonomy into reality for those that work at the coal face every day,” the RPS added.

Action across the system

Pharmacy Voice told C+D that action to reduce workplace pressures is "required across the whole system".

"We meed honesty from all organisations  commercial, trade sector and professional – about taking this issue seriously," it said.

The government's plans to "reform" the sector will "only exacerbate" the pressures faced by pharmacy teams, and Pharmacy Voice "urges" the GPhC to take this into account.

Pharmacy Voice looks forward to working with the regulator to ensure that the issues raised are "properly considered and understood, so that this ends up making a real and constructive difference", it said.

"We have the wherewithal to tackle this [issue] together, if there is a willingness to do so," it said.

"A useful job"

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) told C+D the GPhC’s initiative will have done a “useful job” if it helps to promote professional excellence.

“The NPA has always promoted best practice and we will continue to give practical help to our members to achieve the highest professional standards,” it said.


How do you think the GPhC should deal with workplace pressures?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The RPS is entitled to do as it pleases, if you don't like what they do then don't pay for membership. A large number of pharmacists do pay for membership but only 10% bother to vote.  So either 90% of paying pharmacists are so happy with the RPS that they don't mind who gets elected or 90% of paying pharmacists are a bit dense.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Some of us just want an MEP, and the post-nomials !  But I agree, other than those, it is useless. 

b t, Manager

Well spotted Angela. That is precisely how the RPSGB was split, so that some things like post nominals stayed with RPS.  20 years ago the total subs was circa £140. Its tripled since then. Have our salaries tripled ? Our workload sure has.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Yes, it was very clever! As for all the RPS and GPhC fees, someone has to pay for Dunc's pension and those nice new offices! 

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

It's all very well RPS saying that it will support the GPhC,but what has it done to tackle these issues? Have any meetings, or advice given to the pharmacists at the coal-face? Actions speak louder than word at this point, and whichever organisation DOES something deserves respect as opposed to maing statements that don't carry much weight with an area manager who is pressurising a pharmacist in store

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

I do believe; Sandra Gidley, after losing her seat, began working as a pharmacist again, and said she found working for the multiples, "soul destroying".  So, as RPS EPB member and Chair, can we expect some action??? 

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Oh well, here we go again and if you're young enough get out quick!

b t, Manager

"the RPS said it has been contacted by pharmacists raising “significant concerns” about professional autonomy, safe staffing levels, workload and rest breaks. Many of these pharmacists have also raised these issues with the GPhC,"  Its not a new issue. Nothing has been to date and given the history of the GPhC its more than probable that nothing will be done about it now. Unless of course grass root pharmacists unite and force the issue.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

I'm not interested in any body "promoting professional excellence". What a load of cobblers. What I want is someone who actually has the courage to stop pharmacists being treated like dirt.

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

Professional excellence--at what cost!!!

N A, Non healthcare professional

The GPhC will find out how pharmacy owners 'support their staff to do the right thing in the first place' ===> the GPhC is burying its head in the sand and won't accept that some pharmacy owners are not already supporting people to do the right thing. It will invite pharmacy owners (this will end up being certain large corporates) to submit a defensive legal position showing how any action taken as a result of workplace pressure is entirely the responsibility of the individual, and that companies are not to blame. This will allow the GPhC to carry on doing what it's always been doing - pursuing the individual and ignoring the bigger picture, at the expense of public safety.

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Hypocritical from RPS. Nothing changed after their talking shop in 2009.

N A, Non healthcare professional

The RPS needs to act as well. It's position set out in this article is a good one I think, but ironically it will also be 'rhetoric' if it doesn't fully stand behind it and help to change things.

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Agreed. Acid test for the RPS - professional body for pharmacists or another lapdog for the multiples. Time to show which side they're on

Job of the week

Cayman Islands
Up to US $60,182 per annum (Tax-free salary) + benefits