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Ongoing industrial action will have a significant impact on pharmacy, warn GPhC and CPhO

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Pharmacy professionals encouraged to use their professional judgement to assess and mitigate risk as they deal with increased pressure

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England have written a letter to pharmacy professionals thanking them for providing the best possible services to patients and the public, despite experiencing high and sustained demands and pressures.

GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin and CPhO David Webb indicated that there will be further challenges over the coming weeks and months due to the ongoing industrial action, and staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities.

They expressed concerned that increased pressure will have a significant and potentially prolonged impact on pharmacy teams both personally and professionally.

Acknowledging that pharmacy professionals may have to make some difficult decisions as they deal with the pressures they face, the leaders have urged those working in pharmacy to use “your professional judgement to assess and mitigate risk, and to deliver safe and effective care for your patients within your scope of practice.”

The letter reads: “Regulatory standards for pharmacy professionals and – where relevant – the standards for registered pharmacies are there to support you in making what may sometimes be difficult decisions. These standards are designed to be adaptable and to provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations.”

Further, Duncan and David reassured that in the unlikely event that they are referred to the regulator, the context in which they were working at the time will be considered.

Employers, educational supervisors, professional bodies and national health and social care organisations are also expected to take the challenging situations pharmacy professionals may be facing into account.

Pharmacy professionals are advised to take care of their health and wellbeing, and visit the relevant NHS websites for support.

Supporting the GPhC’s statement, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) has also encouraged those who manage the pharmacy contract within NHS England and Integrated Care Systems to take a similar approach when considering issues faced by pharmacy owners during this time.

“This could be, for example, at times when pharmacies are overloaded with patients’ prescriptions due to pharmacy closures nearby, when they may not be able to dispense prescriptions as promptly as they usually do, or may even have to direct patients to other pharmacies, or undertake additional closed door working to ensure dispensing is carried out safely,” it said.

CPE is set to launch its annual Pressures Survey in March this year to capture further evidence on the unsustainable pressures being faced by those working in community pharmacy.

 

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