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  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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stressed workerJune 22 2016

The General Pharmaceutical Council is look at how pharmacy professionalism is being put under pressure due to workplace demands. It will commence work with people and organisation inside and outside pharmacy to build a picture of workplace pressures, and will hold a seminar in October on the issues being raised.

The pharmacy regulator investigation has been prompted by recent articles in the Guardian. These included Pharmacists’ Defence Association survey data indicating the level of concerns held by employee pharmacists about their employers’ commercial expectations impacting on professional duties. Claims were also made about pharmacists being pressured into conducting unnecessary Medicines Use Reviews.

GPhC Chief executive Duncan Rudkin has commented: “It is important that everyone involved works to ensure that a balance is struck which protects and promotes the health and wellbeing of patients and the public, empowers pharmacy professionals to work with service users to make good decisions about care and enables companies to pursue legitimate business interests in an ethical way.”

Among the steps being taken by the GPhC will be a review of how workplace pressures are handled in professional standards, both for pharmacists and pharmacy owners. It will also be working with unions, professional bodies and employers “to explore how pharmacy professionals can be better supported and empowered to handle challenging situations confidently and professionally, whether that means having the right conversations with managers or even when and how to raise a concern about fraud with the relevant NHS bodies such as NHS Protect in England or NHS Counter Fraud Services in Scotland or Wales.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society welcomed the GPhC’s recognition that “workplace pressure, and the relationship between employers and pharmacists, warrants attention from the regulator.” It said it has been contacted by pharmacists raising “significant concerns about professional autonomy, as well as issues around safe staffing levels, workload and rest breaks. All issues that have a direct impact on patient care.

“Many of these pharmacists have been in contact with the regulator too. We, like them, now expect the GPhC move quickly from words to action on this issue with concrete proposals about how professional, person centred care can be embedded in all sectors quickly.”

The concerns raised by the Guardian article also needs to be “acknowledged and addressed, not ignored,” the Society added. “We would encourage pharmacy trade bodies such as Pharmacy Voice and the negotiating organisations across Great Britain to work with employers to bring about a new covenant between the profession and those that employ them.

“The GPhC have indicated their intention to work with stakeholders on the issue of professionalism. We would expect to have a key role in working with the GPhC to ensure there will be a focus on meaningful proposals. The profession and patients need the GPhC and employers to make the rhetoric of professional autonomy into reality for those that work at the coal face every day.”

Links:

GPhC announcement

GPhC article on plans

GPhC blog article by Duncan Rudkin

RPS statement

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