The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)’s English Pharmacy Board (EPB) has written to public health minister Steve Brine to ask how the Department of Health and Social Care is planning to support the pharmacy workforce’s wellbeing.
In a letter dated 19 July 2018, Sandra Gidley and Sibby Buckle — chair and vice chair of the EPB, respectively — said “members are increasingly concerned about the impact [stress] is having within the pharmacy profession, as well as added psychological stresses linked to workload and financial pressures”.
The letter goes on to say that the EPB is concerned about the impact of workforce pressure on patient care. The maintenance of a “safe and effective workforce” is important for the retention and recruitment of healthcare staff, it says, adding that “as the NHS demands ever greater input from pharmacists it also has responsibility for ensuring their health and wellbeing is protected and supported”.
The EPB welcomes the new legal defence against inadvertent dispensing errors in community pharmacy and believes that more could be done to reduce workforce pressure and support pharmacists with their mental health.
In the letter to Brine, the Board proposes that pharmacists be provided with an equivalent of the NHS GP Health Service, which offers confidential support for doctors who have concerns about their mental health.
The letter follows a motion raised by EPB member Hemant Patel at the board’s most recent meeting on 21 June 2018.
Patel proposed that the EPB writes to Brine urging support measures for pharmacists’ wellbeing to be established, equivalent to those currently offered to GPs.