Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this feature article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.
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Nearly a third of community pharmacy staff who were temporarily added to the pharmacy register in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have either returned to work or are planning to do so soon, a survey has found.
The survey of 1,255 temporarily registered pharmacy staff, conducted by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) on 23 April 2020, found that 14% of pharmacists (n=109) and 20% of pharmacy technicians (n=93) have “already started working” after being registered on 27 March 2020.
Meanwhile, a further 14% of pharmacists (n=110) and 16% of pharmacy technicians (n=74) have said they are “planning to return to work soon”.
Overall, 31% of pharmacy staff members (n=386) said they were either already back to work or planning to return soon.
The survey comes after 6,241 pharmacy staff, who had voluntarily removed themselves or were removed for non-renewal from the GPhC register within the past three years, were given temporary registration to return to work during the pandemic.
Of the 202 pharmacy staff members who had already started working, 64% said they were working in community pharmacy, while just 20% were working in secondary care.
Some 38% of the 184 pharmacy staff members who reported having imminent plans to return to work said they were going into community pharmacies, with 26% going to work in hospitals and 21% unsure of where they would be working.
The survey, published on 5 May 2020, also revealed that 46% (n=582) of staff members were not sure yet whether they would return to work, while 23% (n=287) said they would not be going back to work.
Speaking during an NHS England webinar for community pharmacists on 7 May 2020, Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said the proportion of temporarily registered pharmacy staff who were still considering whether to return was “very significant”, but added that “many have and that’s great”.
“They haven’t all gone through the national signposting process. Many of them are working in community pharmacy having joined up various employers,” he said, adding that the number of people still deciding on whether to return show “there is still capacity in that temporary workforce”.
Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “I have never been more proud of the pharmacy profession – past and present. We are so appreciative of former colleagues who have chosen to help and support staff, patients and their communities during these challenging times.
“Pharmacy teams are all doing an amazing job to ensure that patients get the medicines and health advice that they need in these exceptionally challenging times and we are very grateful to all those who have returned to help in our fight against COVID-19.”