Pharmacists face pressure to work ‘outside their scope of practice’ during doctors’ strike, says union

Exclusive: The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists said it has heard that pharmacists are having to "work extended hours and take on additional roles outside their scope of practice" during the junior doctors' strike.
group of junior doctors picketing

Some hospital pharmacists have been asked to take on extra work during the junior doctors’ strike, the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) has said.

In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 14 April 2023, Nathan Burley, president of the GHP, said that its committee had “heard of hospital-based pharmacists facing pressure to work extended hours and take on additional roles outside their scope of practice” during the four-day strike in England.

“We are disappointed to hear this,” he said. “However, we have also heard of many staff who have used our statement [published in February 2023] to push back against unreasonable requests from managers and an overwhelming outpouring of support for our junior doctor colleagues across all sectors at all levels.”

The strike over junior doctors’ pay began at 6.59am on 11 April 2023 and will last until 6.59am on 15 April 2023. This the second round of action, following a 72-hour strike in March 2023.

Ahead of the previous strike, the GHP published a statement in February 2023, advising its members “only to carry out work that they are qualified, competent and safe to undertake [and] that is contained within their job description”.

“It would be inappropriate for GHP members to work additional hours as to do so would undermine lawful industrial action by medical staff,” the statement said.

In guidance published on the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) website in 2022, the union — which also represents hospital pharmacists — advises pharmacists to decline offers of overtime to do the work of those on strike.

“Pharmacists will also always place patient safety first in accordance with their professional duties, the NHS terms of service, and their employment contracts. Therefore, this shouldn’t be necessary for patient care, but would simply be the employer trying to reduce the impact of strike action,” the guidance says.

Layla McCay, policy director at the NHS Confederation, told BBC Newsnight that pharmacists, as well as consultants, specialist doctors and nurses, were among those providing cover during the strike action.

The British Medical Association has said that junior doctors are striking to achieve “full pay restoration to reverse the steep decline in pay faced by junior doctors since 2008/2009” as they have “experienced a cut of more than 25% to their salaries since that time”.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2023, Vol 310, No 7972;310(7972)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2023.1.181685

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