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In their own words: Pharmacists facing workplace pressure


C+D readers share their worries about how increasing workplace pressure impacts them and their pharmacies

The issue of workplace pressure has been among the most widely debated in UK community pharmacy in recent months, prompting the General Pharmaceutical Council to launch a “programme of work” to address the issue, and discuss how best to support pharmacists.

Ahead of its launch, we asked you to tell us the ways that workplace pressure affects you in your pharmacy.

Here’s just a selection – we will publish more here.

“We have to take work home because of the constant pressure”

The pressures in our pharmacy are quite strong – it affects our workplace and our overall wellbeing.

A couple of us are doing the dispensary course, but because of the constant work pressures surrounding us, we are unable to get any work done – so we are resorting to doing it at home.

The pressure can get too much for a very small pharmacy with limited staff, and it does affect the way we work and how we manage our day-to-day tasks.

A Lloydspharmacy employee 

“Ever-increasing demands”

Not only are the demands during working hours ever-increasing, but I’ve now found out that my company expects us to give up a Sunday to attend flu vaccination training, without getting any overtime for the time we are giving up. Here’s the email I got from my manager:

“Unfortunately, the business has made the decision that overtime will not be payable for flu training this year.”

An anonymous pharmacist

“Locums won’t be booked if they don’t pay for training” 

I’m a locum at a chain, and managers have been telling their locums they won’t be booked if they don’t take part in the flu service.

The company, however, is expecting locums to pay for their training themselves.

I am assured by head office that this won’t be the case and that it is not mandatory to offer the service.

But I think they forgot to tell their managers, because I know locums are either having their shifts taken off them, or have been told that they will not be booked from October onwards.

A locum

Read one anonymous pharmacist's blog about the pressure and threats they receive at a multiple

We want to hear more of your experiences – and your solutions – for the workplace pressure crisis facing the sector.

Email us at [email protected]

How is workplace pressure affecting your pharmacy?

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

So has the on-mass refusal of Tesco bookings happened or as has everybody (predictably) taken the cut? Of course, I'm being silly, I know from firsthand information there has been no issue with bookings. I had an interesting conversation with somebody who has immediate knowledge of the general 2016/2017 locum landscape  and by all accounts with every year of rate cuts there has been a simultaneous improvement in the booking situation - the appetite for lower rates is strong. How about the strike that was put about this year, any news on that? How about the work pressure campaign from five years ago, any news? In my area rates have been cut hard (a popular area to be fair), workloads have never been higher, staff levels never been lower and the pressure to hit targets never more aggressive. In fact the last three months has seen a particularly aggressive campaign on targets. Just saying. 

Pharmacy HLP, Manager

Get involved in the politics and force a change. Make them see that the future that is being offered to most is not a professional one but one of subsistence . I feel very sorry for where pharmacy finds itself , but many of us are expecting someone else to fix this and understand your needs. All of pharmacy direction is driven by the money , note where most of it goes to then see what is going to happen to the idealistic  individual in all that.



Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Get involved somewhere else and lift your spirits . We are now entering a new aggresive phase of financial attrition in community pharmacy and you will be sacrificed for corporate profit. We have no leverage of any kind even if we were united, which has never been the case. Do you want to lose your sanity or your job ? Many will lose one over the next few years and both in some cases....

Snake Plissken, Student

I second that on a great post Dave! Can tell you've written that from an aching, bleeding heart about a profession long dead. There's no help to be found, just articles writen about the tough environment and work pressure pharmacist face. It's only going to keep getting worse with time:-(

Ava Denuff, Locum pharmacist

The soul and spirit of a phamacist is no different to any other human being. It can only take so much pressure before it becomes crushed and destroyed. Maybe it's not affecting me as much as some, but then I try not to let it bother me too much. One thing is for sure, I feel very different about this unprotected profession of ours than I did when I first arrived in over 20 years ago. Things change. I appreciate that and have always tried to keep up with and embrace such change. BUT...not one of our so-called professional representative bodies have done a thing to stop many of  the changes from being bad ones. Our lot is not where it should be in the bigger picture. Pressure to perform and deliver is immense in what is too competitive a field. Healthcare provision should not be about fighting amongst ourselves for an extra buck. Unfortunately, the bodies I mentioned have not supported us in creating a level and fair playing field. Heaven help us with further cuts and all that..... again, who is protecting us from this?The Doctors are not facing fact a hefty pay rise for the exchange for re-working their hours to cover weekends...we have been doing them for quite some time already  and for little additional reward. Point is , the BMA was supportive to its membership to help stop it getting completely rolled over. We dont just get rolled over... it feels like we sometimes actively lie down .   

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

If you're 'the' Dave Hardman, I've worked in a lot of the same places you have so I share your pain! I'm largely out of the locum game now so I did get lucky in a one-man band with NO mur or nms pressure - in fact, I suggested doing NMS to them!. If ever you fancy going on our locum file give me a shout!

Ava Denuff, Locum pharmacist

And if you are 'the' steve mellor.. then I would gladly join your locum list. will dig out your phone number from one of the locum induction forms on my travels.....I always wondered how you manged to keep travelling all that distance to south yorkshire based shop with no mileage payment.. well done ..sounds like you landed on your feet...


Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

You can drop me an email Dave. [email protected] (the person who set it up spelled my name wrong!!)

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

The "nimbys" of both our "so called" professional bodies won't lift a finger to help.

The RPS may as well not exist for the majority of our profession--it exists for mainly aceademic self edification & those seeking extra letters after their name--no change there!

No wonder we are left out in the cold.

Another Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

A wonderful post Dave. An eloquent eulogy for a profession that lost it's way many years ago. It's now a haven for area managers with their "transferable skills", but no place for a professional pharmacist... or other trained pharmacy colleagues for that matter!

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