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90% of pharmacists are at high risk of burnout

A third of pharmacists have considered leaving the profession altogether

Seventy-two per cent of pharmacists say their work is having a negative impact on their mental health while nine-tenths are at high risk of burnout, a new survey reveals.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s annual mental health and wellbeing survey, published today (Wednesday November 25) with sector charity Pharmacist Support, shows little change from last year when 74 per cent said work was affecting their quality of life.

Eighty-nine per cent say they are at high risk of burnout in this year’s survey, up from 80 per cent in 2019. A third have considered leaving their job while another third have thought about leaving the profession altogether.

Increased patient demand, inadequate staffing, long hours and a lack of breaks and time off are some of the factors cited by pharmacists.

The Covid-19 crisis has taken an additional toll on wellbeing this year, with 54 per cent facing poor mental health as a result of the pandemic and 31 per cent describing the impact as significant.

While 57 per cent of employers offer mental health and wellbeing support, 44 per cent of pharmacists are hesitant to access this due to concerns around confidentiality, stigma and a possible harmful impact on their careers.

An 'incredibly tough' year for pharmacists

Responding to the findings on social media, England's chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said the report was "helpful in quantifying the pressure that people are under" and that all employers should "examine the results of this survey very carefully and make sure they are doing all they can to alleviate staff concerns".

RPS president Sandra Gidley said the pandemic has “been incredibly tough and caused enormous stress and increased workloads for pharmacy teams”.

“We need to ensure support is available for those who need it, whilst preventing problems from happening by tackling some of the root causes of poor mental health and wellbeing in the workplace,” Ms Gidley said.

“Flexible opening hours have been enormously helpful in managing workloads and should become a permanent adaptation, rather than a short-term measure.

“Having the right staffing levels and skill mix in the pharmacy to support safe and effective patient care should be a given. 

“And being able to take breaks, to relieve the pressure or for CPD to learn something new, is essential.”

Ms Gidley said more work needs to be done to ensure the profession is inclusive and welcoming to all backgrounds, adding that the RPS would be presenting its findings to Governments and NHS bodies “to create the change that’s needed”.

Pharmacist Support chief executive Danielle Hunt said: “A clear concern for us from these results is that there are a number of barriers to accessing mental health and wellbeing support for pharmacists and pharmacy students.

“Although the reasons behind this may not always be clear, a large percentage point to a lack of awareness and concerns around confidentiality and stigma. Worryingly there is also a gap in awareness amongst BAME respondents of employer or NHS-funded occupational services.”

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