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RPS workforce wellbeing survey: 86% of pharmacists are at high risk of burnout

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Inadequate staffing is identified as the main factor contributing to poor mental health and wellbeing.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has released findings from its fifth annual workforce wellbeing survey, which was conducted in collaboration with the profession’s charity, Pharmacist Support.

Exposing the mental health challenges faced by pharmacists, the survey revealed a troubling statistic: 86 per cent of pharmacists are at a high risk of burnout.

Inadequate staffing was the main factor contributing to burnout, followed by lack of work-life balance, insufficient protected learning time, absence of colleague or senior support, and long working hours.

While pharmacies are encouraged to provide more clinical services, more than 60 per cent of pharmacists surveyed reported that they were not being offered “sufficient protected learning time” to focus on their professional development and learning needs.

The survey also exposed a distressing trend of workplace abuse, with over 40 per cent of pharmacists reporting verbal abuse from the public, and 25 per cent from colleagues or managers.

Alarmingly, some pharmacists (seven per cent of the respondents) reported experiencing physical abuse in the workplace.

“The survey results demonstrate the human cost of coping with the relentless workplace pressures that pharmacists and trainees experience daily,” said RPS President Professor Claire Anderson.

She emphasised that collaborative efforts from governments, employers and the NHS are required to create “more supportive and fulfilling work environments.”

Also, she underscored the importance of having “protected learning time” for more pharmacists to take on prescribing roles.

“Without it, ambitions to expand prescribing services will be frustrated,” Professor Anderson said.

“A significant increase in learning opportunities for prescribers, and in workplace supervision capacity for designated prescribing practitioners, is essential,” she added.

Professor Anderson continued: “No one should have to face abuse in the workplace. Such behaviour undermines the well-being of individuals and compromises the quality of care provided to patients.”

Chief Executive of Pharmacist Support, Danielle Hunt, underscored the urgent need for creating “more supportive and sustainable work environments” within the pharmacy profession to address the mental health challenges faced by pharmacists.

He said that the charity has developed and launched a new course for pharmacy managers and leaders entitled ‘Embracing a Workplace Wellbeing Culture,’ after being informed by the previous year’s survey results.

RPS and Pharmacist Support plan to convene a roundtable discussion at the end of February to review the latest findings with the NHS, professional bodies, employers, trade unions, education and regulators.

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