Workforce Wellbeing

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The evidence from our 2022 Workforce Wellbeing survey shows that the pressures on the pharmacy workforce continues to negatively impact on mental health and wellbeing, with high workloads and staff shortages clearly affecting the workforce.

Pharmacy teams are under immense pressure at the moment, in common with other NHS services, and working extremely hard with health service colleagues to provide the right care for patients. Staffing pressures, alongside an increase in workload, create an extra burden which takes a toll on the wellbeing of pharmacy teams.

The scale and impact of workforce burnout in the NHS and social care has been recognised by the three Governments and RPS continues to advocate to address the mental and physical wellbeing of all pharmacy staff across England, Scotland, and Wales.

The General Pharmaceutical Council, along with the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland and the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers, has issued a joint communication, recognising the demands and pressures on pharmacy teams.

What we're asking for:

  • Pharmacy working environments must have a culture of belonging that is inclusive, celebrates diversity and supports wellbeing
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    All working environments must adopt a culture of belonging, so pharmacists feel recognised, valued, and are able to confidentially access support for their mental health and wellbeing if needed.

    Employers, managers, and pharmacy teams must actively promote the wellbeing of staff, engaging with staff and working together to tackle the causes of work-related wellbeing problems and to support staff who are experiencing mental health problems.

    Career development and flexible working options should be discussed and enabled to help support pharmacists to manage and optimise their workload.

    The skills required to help managers and individuals support personal and team mental health and wellbeing, including cultural considerations, must be embedded in undergraduate, foundation and post registration training.

  • All pharmacists must be given access to, and be enabled to take, appropriate rest breaks, both for the welfare of pharmacists and for patient safety
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    A protected break must be enabled both for the welfare of pharmacists and for patient safety.

    A cultural change is needed so that pharmacists, NHS bodies, employers, Governments, regulator, and the public recognise the essential importance of taking breaks for patient safety and workforce wellbeing.

    Breaks can be introduced in a way that minimises the impact on patients and the public. Legislation already exists to enable pharmacist breaks, for example, Working Time Regulations, Responsible Pharmacist legislation and in some NHS terms of service contracts.

    Pharmacists in all settings should be enabled to use these mechanisms to take rest breaks. If a decision is made that a pharmacy has to close to enable a break, closures should take place at a fixed time, advertised locally for public awareness, and making it clear what services are unavailable.

  • Pharmacists must have dedicated protected learning time within working hours
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    Governments and NHS bodies must enable funded protected learning time and the infrastructure to support it.

    This must be available for all pharmacists to enable the continuum of professional development from foundation to consultant level.

    Good practice and pilots have been welcomed across England, Scotland and Wales, but there must be a wider and more accessible offer made available nationally for all pharmacists.

  • Investment is needed in the pharmacy workforce to train more pharmacy staff and upskill existing staff to work at the top of their competence
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    All pharmacy services must have the right skill mix and enough staff to help optimise workload effectively. This includes pharmacy technicians, pharmacy support workers and business/management/administrative roles.

    Career pathways should be developed to make all roles more attractive and rewarding.

    View our Workforce policy at www.rpharms.com/recognition/all-our-campaigns/policy-a-z/workforce

  • Pharmacists and their staff must have continued access to national wellbeing and occupational health support
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    All employers must offer, or signpost to, wellbeing support that is culturally sensitive and relevant.

    A collaborative approach must be taken across the profession to address the stigma and fear around mental health and to support individuals seeking well-being support.

    All employers should support and encourage the pharmacy workforce to access wellbeing services when needed and reduce the perception of stigma.

    Governments and NHS bodies across England, Scotland and Wales should continue to enable pharmacy teams to access support via the national NHS wellbeing support services offers.

Supporting improved mental health and wellbeing

Since 2019, we have been working closely with the independent charity, Pharmacist Support, to better understand the mental health and wellbeing of the pharmacy workforce.

Our annual surveys help to inform the development of a programme of work to support improved mental health and wellbeing in pharmacy.

Together, we can all create the change we want to see.

How you can help:

Are you worried about the mental health of a colleague - or yourself?

Get support and access resources on the RPS Wellbeing hub.

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For personal advice about your own mental health and wellbeing, you can also contact Pharmacist Support, the independent charity for pharmacists.

If you're struggling to manage your wellbeing, Pharmacist Support - the profession’s charity – has free and confidential services that may help.

For information, free and confidential advice, peer and counselling support, as well as to access their wellbeing workshops and online resources visit their website at pharmacistsupport.org or call 0808 168 2233 or email [email protected].

Make a donation

Pharmacist Support relies on the support of individuals and organisations to continue to provide their vital free and confidential services. As a member of the RPS, we know you care about our profession, so we ask you join us in supporting the profession’s independent charity by making a small donation.

All donations make a difference and will be used to help the thousands of pharmacists, trainees and MPharm students who contact Pharmacist Support for assistance every year. Your donation can help change the life of someone facing difficult circumstances, including sudden illness or disability, financial hardship, or personal crisis by providing practical, emotional and financial help when and where it is needed.