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Pharmacy Inquiry: PDA pushes for government attention to community pharmacists’ wellbeing

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PDA’s newly submitted evidence highlighted issues surrounding the workforce that impact their health and well-being.  

The Professional Pharmacists Association (PDA) has demanded efforts to secure greater support and recognition for community pharmacists from governmental bodies.

In its written evidence provided to the Health and Social Care select committee’s pharmacy inquiry, the PDA raised concerns about the well-being of pharmacists, specifically for those who belong to minority ethnic groups and race and are subjected to bullying, harassment, and ill-treatment.

The association highlighted issues in the workplace that impact pharmacists’ health and well-being, including chronic understaffing, sub-standard working environments, an absence of protected training time, and experiences of racism, violence, and abuse.

Parallel to the PDA’s advocacy, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is intensifying calls for prioritising workforce wellbeing within the pharmacy domain. Stressing the pivotal role of workforce retention in addressing current challenges, RPS emphasises the need for robust support mechanisms and equitable access to mental health services.

In a recent RPS’s wellbeing survey report run in collaboration with charity Pharmacist Support, nearly half (45 per cent) of community pharmacists reported poor mental health, compared to an average of 37 per cent across the whole of pharmacy. Respondents cited inadequate staffing, lack of work/life balance, lack of protected learning time, and lack of colleague/senior support as reasons for poor mental health and wellbeing.

Additionally, community pharmacists were found to be less likely than pharmacists working in other sectors to be offered protected learning time (five per cent vs an average 22 per cent), while 20 per cent  of respondents from community pharmacy reported not being offered breaks, compared to eight per cent  across other sectors.

Whereas, a data analysis report published in 2023 by NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) also revealed concerning trends in workplace experiences among pharmacy staff. While rates of harassment, bullying, or abuse remain consistently higher among Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff compared to their White counterparts, disparities persist in perceptions of equal opportunities for career progression or promotion.

Additionally, BME staff reported a significantly higher incidence of personal discrimination at work from managers or colleagues. These findings underscored the urgent need for targeted interventions to address workplace inequalities and foster a more inclusive and supportive environment within the pharmacy sector.

The PDA’s evidence also drew the committee’s attention to other issues of importance to pharmacists such as the introduction of the Pharmacy First Service, and the recent pharmacy supervision consultation.

Although PDA members welcomed the introduction of the new scheme, they have also raised concerns regarding the timelines and methodologies of its implementation.

Regarding the proposals around supervision legislation, the PDA said they “need to be very carefully considered to ensure that the workforce and skill mix are appropriately enabled.”

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