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RPS board member: Pharmacy contract must tackle ‘soaring’ stress

Hemant Patel
"There is anecdotal evidence of pharmacists withdrawing into a shell"

A Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) board member has asked the organisation to combat the “devastating problem” of pharmacists’ stress.

Newly-elected English pharmacy board member Hemant Patel wrote to the RPS last week (June 16), to “demand that the new contract for community pharmacy includes adequate resources” to deal with the “soaring problem of psychological stress within the pharmacy profession”.

Mr Patel has also asked the RPS to write to pharmacy minister Steve Brine to “seek equity” for pharmacists and GPs when it comes to mental health support.

GPs have had free mental health support since the launch of the NHS GP Health Service in January 2017. NHS England has also earmarked £19.5 million in funding to support GPs who need mental health support.

“What is good and necessary for GPs should also be good and necessary for community pharmacy,” Mr Patel said.

“Community pharmacy, like GPs, as NHS providers have an independent contractor status and should make a strong case – based on evidence of stress and [its] negative impact on [patient] care in community pharmacies.”

“NHS framework should recognise pharmacists”

Mr Patel called for the NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework – which NHS England launched in May and sets out “what NHS organisations need to do to support staff” – to also recognise “pharmacists’ resilience as a resource in the context of work pressures…and become part of the new contractual framework for community pharmacy”.

Mr Patel said the RPS should make pharmacists’ health and wellbeing “part of the remit of the director of pharmacy and membership services”, Robbie Turner.

Pharmacists “withdrawing into a shell”

There is “anecdotal evidence” of the impact of pharmacists reacting to stress, including pharmacists “drinking or smoking more, snapping at colleagues and customers, and withdrawing into a shell”, Mr Patel said.

The RPS “must act with urgency to protect the public interest as well as the professional”, he said.

In December the C+D Salary Survey 2017 found 80% of employee pharmacists said they were stressed at work, an increase of six percentage points on 2015 levels.

How do you relieve stress?

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

At least I can eat a chocolate teapot. What can I do with Hemant Patel?

@johal Why not post with your actual name? you're so psychologically fierce you can withstand everything and you'll live until the age of 200 because you're so strong. pull the other one

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Is Mr Johal actually Mr Rudkin?


Haha possibly. 

To temper the tone a bit I invite both to consider the works of researchers reading into the social and psychological effects of inequality: most recently with a book published called ‘the inner level’ and previously ‘the spirit level’ - some food for thought (in the predigested mushy online lecture format) is available here:

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Let's be honest here. If you can get to the heady heights of boss of the RPSGB, and you STILL cannot improve the profession, what hopes have you got now? Zero.

That fee hike was an absolute disgrace.

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Does Prime Minister, Teresa May, get it all her own way or in a democracy decisions are based on evaluation of circumstances at that moment by a group of people who have an informed view and help of paid experts? I accept responsibility to make difficult decisions and accountability to the membership. Not all decisions will be popular but they may be the only option available. As before, I will only vote according to my conscious.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

With the incredible power of hindsight, Mr Patel, you had neither an informed view nor did you make the right decisions. Don't bring Teresa May into this because she is doing a half decent job. I'm not sure that you really understand what accountability is from your post.

We all have to make difficult decisions as part of your daily lives, but most of us don't cripple entire professions in doing so.

I am sure your conscious (sic) is clear.

I'm sure a bit of "transparency" about what you gained personally from your time with the RPSGB would go a long way with pharmacists to showing that you are a genuine and decent person, and not "on the take" as much as possible like so many in this beleaguered industry.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Mr Patel, I totally disagree with your version of “accountability”, the membership had no say e.g.  in the fees increase to bolster the RPSGBs pension pot or the split. What is the difference between a person in power knowingly making and implementing decisions contrary to the people they serve and a dictator?

I remember being told about  those secret meetings the RPSGB had with the superintendents of the major multiples, prior to and shortly after the split, the purpose was to persuade them to pay the membership fees for their pharmacists, and asked them what the RPS can do for these companies for them to come up with the money. Accountable to the membership, Hamant?

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

I have attended no meeting with suprintendedts of the major multiples ever. So, much I have already confirmed. I have no problem to RPSGB releasing the minutes of those meetings. In fact, I believe all items classified as confidential should be re-classified after 3-5 years. What say do you have in Council Tax rises, Income tax rises and other subscriptions? A realsitic view might be helpful if you want to debate something.

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Birdgrove house should have never been closed and where did the money from the sale go since I understand many pharmacists left legacies to it for the use for future pharmacists for their health.

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Opinion without examination of facts. No one like closures but  expert opinion disagrees with you. Now write your opinion about experts and ignore your training as a scientist.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Hemant, you haven't changed a bit, just as dictatorial and dismissive of the membership as you were before. You didn't answer Mr Mistry's point, the 'experts' you employed, what brief or frame of reference did you give them? Find a way to carry on the Birdsgrove House charity or how to save money? Was the membership consulted on the closure?

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

I have tried to engage and respond but you have a point of view which will not change. I know of know one who remembers every piece of detail from over 15 years ago. The issue was fully debated then and has no relevance now. You are free to ask RPS any question you like. I have time for our members and I am not sure you are a member of RPS. So, I move on.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

You don't know of one person who remembers why you put the fees up 50%? Pull the other one.

I bet you fitted right in at the RPSGB.

In my years as a pharmacist I have spoken to dozens and dozens of pharmacists about was was going on at the RPSGB, and now the GPhC, and have still to meet anyone with a single good thing to say.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Mr Patel, since you were also a trustee (chairman?) of Birdsgrove House, can you tell us what happened to the money? Have the sums been added to the RPS’s pension pot?

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

hemant you have been in a priveleged position at the top where you could have done something for us at the bottom , instead things have got worse for us and incredibly better for those living in ivory towers , you are not the only one who has failed us , the increased workload thrown at us for less money has left most of us at breaking point, we are lucky if we can eat a greggs pasty , whilst some enjoy free cucumber sandwiches  

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

could you tell me what a typical day is for RSPGB or GPhC president , what duties and powers you have , and what improvements were done to the profession whilst you were in charge  

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

As you are well aware RPS is a professional body not a trade union. RPS did not negotiate community pharmacy contract and records will show that I opposed the damn thing and consistently sought change at LPC conference. My consciousness is clear but I am frustrated and angry about the fate of pharmacists. That is why I’m willing to expose myself to the unreasonable, ignorant, unnecessarily vociferous, and also the fair minded. I won’t hide cause like everyone I am accountable for my decisions in a democratic society. I do not expect to appease all ‘cause that does not happen in the happiest nation on earth. People will take out their frustration in various ways and I have to accept that. Sometimes I’m disappointed that educated people can behave the way they do. But, it says something about them.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

The rot definitely set in around 2005. Introduction of services that many GPs just ignore, and patients don't want, plus a huge increase in the RPSGB fees. Not long after many multiples switched to non-pharmacist area managers and the profession has never recovered.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Hemant, “pharmacists withdrawing into a shell, drink, smoke” etc etc. The way to deal with this is to exclude the unsuitable personality types at undergraduate level. I had to deal with stress all my life, from primary school right through to my working life. My parents never asked my school to change its teaching methods so I can have an easy life without homework. I support employers to psychometric pharmacists for stress reactions at the recruitment stage, to protect the public and safeguard their insurance status. 

You had a chance to prevent a lot of what is happening now when you were president of the RPSGB, but you did not have the necessary vision.

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

What have you done in your life for others?

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Please forgive me if In your mind I have sinned. I’m only human. Pls give me a chance to redeem myself. I only live for tomorrow.

Tom Kennedy, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Totally on board with your way of thinking Jonny, lets not stop there though, we won't offer help to anyone with any mental health condition at all, just tell them to stop being chumps and give them some story about how we didn't get support with our home work.  #JonnyJohalforPresident

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Well Tom, depends on the type of mental health issues. Should the public not be protected from those who can’t take stress?

As for supporting pharmacists health, Hemant, according to the Pharmaceutical Journal 20th August 2005, didn't you have something to do with the closure of Birdsgrove House?

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