The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) England Chair Thorrun Govind has called for Government action to support pharmacy teams experiencing huge demand for their services.
“Pharmacy teams are under immense pressure at the moment, in common with other NHS services, and working extremely hard with health service colleagues to provide the right care for patients,” said Govind.
“As winter pressures mount, pharmacies see increased numbers of patients seeking support with illness and also because they have heard other areas of the health service are struggling to cope.
The society has also stated staffing pressures, alongside an increase in workload has created an extra burden which takes a toll on the wellbeing of pharmacy teams. Govind added: “Issues such as medicine shortages can also take up many hours of time for pharmacy teams tracking down medicines when they could be directly helping patients. In community pharmacies, rising costs and fairly static funding are adding to business pressures.
“However, pharmacies remain the most accessible part of the health service and provide expert advice to patients without the need for an appointment and are open long hours and at weekends.”
RPS is seeking the government support pharmacy to get the best possible service for patients. In particular a properly funded minor ailments service in pharmacies across England so patients can get the same advice and treatment prescribed for common illnesses as provided by general practice. “This would improve access to care for patients, relieve some of the workload of GPs and enable community pharmacists to use their skills to benefit patient care,” said Govind.
She added: “We’d also like to see the Government enable more efficient ways of working, such as allowing community pharmacists to make amends to prescriptions during medicines shortages to ease supply issues and to maximise all the roles in the pharmacy team. The pharmacy workforce must be included in the Government’s upcoming long-term workforce plan to address issues around education, training, and skill mix in pharmacies.
“The months ahead will be challenging. However, there are opportunities to better use the pharmacy workforce to optimise workloads across primary care and by working together, can we develop long-term solutions which benefit all and put patients first.”