The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called on employers, governments and NHS organisations to provide pharmacists with regular protected learning time (PLT) within working hours to develop their skills in clinical delivery, education, research and leadership.
RPS workforce wellbeing survey showed an average 42 per cent of pharmacists were not given any PLT, a figure which rose to 55 per cent in community pharmacy. Most were unable to engage in professional development activities as part of their working day because of their responsibility to deliver frontline clinical services to patients.
This means learning is often undertaken outside of working hours, increasing pressure on individuals and impacting their work/life balance.
The survey showed that 48 per cent of respondents identified a lack of PLT as negatively affecting their mental health and wellbeing and that 88 per cent were at high risk of burnout.
PLT improves the quality of patient care through professional practice and reflection, helping to develop insights, maintain and refine care standards and increase confidence. It facilitates continuous professional development (CPD), ensuring that skills and knowledge are up to date.
RPS President Professor Claire Anderson said: “It’s unacceptable that many pharmacists have to use their own time for professional development to provide clinical services for patients. It’s the ultimate irony that their personal dedication to patients could be affecting their ability to provide the safest possible care.
“Without PLT being part of everyday practice, government ambitions for the delivery of services by pharmacist prescribers will be frustrated. A significant increase in learning opportunities for prescribers and in workplace supervision capacity for designated prescribing practitioners will be essential to successful implementation of high quality, safe services for patients.
“As well as being clinicians, pharmacists are also educators, researchers and leaders. They need protected time to build those skills, support others in practice and develop professional leadership. Time must be allocated outside of patient-facing activities so pharmacists can develop alongside other healthcare professionals.
“PLT will also give confidence to other healthcare professions by demonstrating commitment to ongoing learning and development, building trust and understanding within multidisciplinary teams.
“Governments, employers and NHS bodies must enable regular, funded, PLT and the infrastructure to support it to enable continuous professional development from foundation pharmacists to consultant level across Great Britain. We believe it is essential that learning time is considered in any future workforce plans.