Number of calls to Pharmacist Support helpline rises by three quarters in a year

The charity reported funding 876 counselling sessions and awarding 23% more financial aid grants in 2023.
woman on phone resting head on hand

The number of calls to a peer support helpline for pharmacists increased by 74% in 2023 compared with 2022, a charity has said.

Pharmacist Support, which assists pharmacists, former pharmacists and their families, as well as trainees and pharmacy students, in looking after their wellbeing, attributed the surge in calls to its investment in digital infrastructure, including the introduction of a new online referral form for calls to the helpline.

Esther Sadler-Williams, chair of Pharmacist Support, said the investment in digital infrastructure has enabled “easier access to support, information and advice, helping more individuals, whilst enabling our charity team to manage demand”.

The increase comes after the charity reported that it provided 911 counselling sessions in 2022, an increase of 214% compared with 2021, owing to an increasing number of pharmacy staff with mental health struggles.

According to its most recent Impact Report, published in July 2024, it funded 876 counselling sessions in 2023, while the number of financial grants awarded by the charity also increased by 23% in 2023, totalling £193,528.

Pharmacist Support offers grants to pharmacists, trainees and students who are experiencing financial hardship and require assistance for essential expenditures.

“Although we have spent more on counselling, addiction support, and grants than we had planned, the board was pleased to continue to facilitate support where it is most needed. However, rising inflation has been a challenge and, coupled with the increased demand for our services, we will continue to work to increase donations in order that we can exist for our beneficiaries in perpetuity,” Sadler-Williams added.

Commenting on the report, Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said: “Pharmacists are increasingly being asked to deliver transformational change in the face of significant workplace pressures, staff shortages and insufficient protected learning time, resulting in high levels of burnout.

“Pharmacist Support’s enhanced digital access and wellbeing advancements have been crucial in providing support to pharmacists struggling with these challenges, and we encourage all pharmacists to make use of these resources and to reach out for help when needed.”

She added that the RPS is “committed to continue working closely with Pharmacist Support to better support and contribute to the wellbeing of pharmacists, building on their success of the past year”.

In May 2024, the RPS and Pharmacist Support announced a formal agreement to “align plans and work more effectively together to increase the impact of the charity and better support RPS members”.

A report, jointly published by Pharmacist Support and the RPS in October 2023, revealed that workplace stress levels were rising among pharmacists with the organisations calling for burnout among pharmacy professionals to be addressed at a “systemic level”.

In 2023, the charity expanded its workplace wellbeing support with the development of an online course aimed at pharmacy managers, leaders and supervisors. Its annual ACTNow wellbeing campaigns also saw a 29% growth in 2023 in sign-ups across the three campaigns targeted at students, trainees and pharmacists.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2024, Vol 313, No 7987;313(7987)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.322906

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