by Sandra Gidley, RPS President
The extent of workforce pressures on the mental health and wellbeing of pharmacists, pre-regs and students is shocking.
When we asked you to tell us about your experiences in our workplace wellbeing survey in September, over a 1300 of you responded in a fortnight. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with us and our survey partner, the charity Pharmacist Support.
Pharmacists all over the country told us they are suffering from severe stress and burnout because of the pressures they are facing at work.
This is totally unacceptable.
The data you have provided us with is powerful. Our next step is to lobby governments, NHS and employers across Great Britain to make sure all pharmacists get equal access to wellbeing support. At present, only those pharmacists employed directly by the NHS get access to help, alongside doctors and dentists, who get it regardless of where they work. We are fighting for all of you to get the same support.
Workplace pressure contributes significantly to poor mental health and wellbeing. Some of the themes we’ve picked up include how poor mental health is not specific to one sector of practice, it can affect all pharmacists wherever they work. A large proportion of respondents told us they are at a high risk of burnout. Many of you have also said that you’re very concerned about the effects your stress has on patient safety. In addition, survey respondents feel that workplace pressures can cause people to disengage from their role, creating personal unhappiness and a less productive workforce.
Campaigning for you
Our lobbying work around this is now focusing on getting preventative measures in place and structured mental health and wellbeing services for all pharmacists. I’d go as far as saying that the NHS is at risk of creating workforce inequalities by providing support services for some staff and not others. We need to learn the lessons from the workforce pressures our GP and nurse colleagues have experienced, rather than make the same mistakes.
In December we’ll be publishing a summary of the topline survey results and will provide a more detailed report in Spring 2020. We’ll then hold a roundtable with key stakeholders to identify solutions to the problems raised in the survey. We’ll continue to engage with you, the NHS and government to get equal access to the right support for the profession.
Remember, if you’re struggling to manage your wellbeing, you’re not alone. Pharmacist Support – the profession’s charity – has free and confidential services that may help. For information, a stress helpline, specialist advice, wellbeing workshops and online resources visit Pharmacist Support firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0808 168 2233.