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NHSE and GPhC warn of “exceptional challenges” facing pharmacy teams

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NHSE and GPhC warn of “exceptional challenges” facing pharmacy teams

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer and the chief executive of the GPhC have warned of the “exceptional challenges” that pharmacy teams will face over the coming period due to “high and sustained demands and pressures”.

In a joint letter published on Tuesday, David Webb and Duncan Rudkin said this pressure was likely to be exacerbated by staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities, as well as ongoing industrial action [in the NHS]. They recognised that the personal and professional impact on pharmacy teams will be “significant and potentially prolonged” and difficult decisions may have to be made as the sector deals with these pressures.

Mr Webb and Mr Rudkin urged pharmacists to use their professional judgement to assess and mitigate risk in delivering safe and effective care for patients within their scope of practice by following their regulatory standards. These were designed to be adaptable and to “provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations”.

However, in view of these pressures, they added: “We understand you may be worried that concerns could be raised with the regulator about your practice. We want to reassure you that in the unlikely event that you are referred to the regulator, [it] will consider the context [and environmental factors] you were working in at the time.

“We also expect employers, educational supervisors, professional bodies and national health and social care organisations to take the challenging situations you may be facing into account.”

They asked pharmacy teams to continue to work closely with colleagues in other local pharmacy services, and the wider multidisciplinary team, and with the local NHS leadership and authorities, to make sure patients get access to timely care. “This co-operation and partnership working will be vitally important.”

They also urged pharmacists to take care of their own wellbeing and that of their colleagues. “Seek support from your employer and relevant NHS websites if you need it.”

Mr Webb and Mr Rudkin thanked pharmacy teams for their ongoing hard work to provide the best possible care for patients and the public. “We know your contribution is making a major difference for the communities [you] serve.”

The letter received a mixed reaction from the sector. On X (formerly Twitter), Dorset contractor Mike Hewitson said: “Thank you @TheGPhC and @davidwebb1 for your note of concern. I found it oddly comforting. Perhaps you could help us secure much needed resources to help make the sector safe and sustainable?

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