Working conditions in pharmacies have worsened in 2021, the annual Safer Pharmacies Survey conducted by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) revealed, highlighting the challenging and unsafe environments that some pharmacists are working in.
The survey asks pharmacists across all areas of practice about their experiences of key safety measures in the workplace.
Since the launch of the Safer Pharmacies Charter in 2017, PDA’s annual surveys have monitored their feedback against the Charter’s commitments, which covers seven basic areas as standard practice for pharmacy work.
The commitments are No Self-Checking, Safe Staffing, Access to a Pharmacist, Adequate Rest, Respect for Professional Judgment, Raising Concerns and Physical Safety.
The survey revealed that eight out of 10 feel unsafe at work as violence and abuse still remain areas of concerns in pharmacy.
The PDA noted that survey did not cover incidences related to lateral flow testing kits and intimidation from anti-vax protests as it concluded before these issues were reported.
The association continues to advocate a zero-tolerance approach of violence in pharmacy and calls upon employers to take a preventative approach by conducting regular risk assessments around staff safety.
Some respondents highlighted that too many unreasonable demands placed on them by employers impact their health and wellbeing at work.
The PDA added that pharmacists at Boots, LloydsPharmacy and Well, who were asked to complete the HSE Survey, reported unachievable targets, unrealistic time pressures, and instances of bullying and harassment.
The association stated that such conditions can increase pressure on the mental health of pharmacists.
It added that such concerns should be urgently addressed in the interest of pharmacists’ health and wellbeing, which in turn could also affect patient care.
Besides, issues of recruitment and retention in the community pharmacy sector should also be addressed.
It encouraged employers to sign up to the Safer Pharmacies Charter and pledge to focus on improvements across all of the seven commitments.