Workforce Wellbeing

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The evidence from our 2021 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.

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.

What we're asking for:

  • Pharmacy working environments must have a culture of belonging that is inclusive, celebrates diversity and supports wellbeing
    + EXPAND
    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
    + EXPAND
    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.

What RPS will do:

  • Work with governments, regulators, employers, pharmacy organisations and the NHS to take forward our policy recommendations to help create the right working environment and culture for good mental health and wellbeing in pharmacy
  • Work with key stakeholders to develop resources and guidance to embed rest breaks and protected learning time into daily professional practice
  • Encourage the destigmatisation of mental health and enable pharmacy teams to access the support they need when they need it, through both raising awareness of available support and encouraging its use
  • Signpost to and provide wellbeing support to members by sharing tools, approaches and practical tips
  • Work with key stakeholders to tackle public expectations of pharmacy services, including exploring ways to reduce public abuse of pharmacists and their teams.

What Pharmacist Support will do:

  • Continue to provide independent direct wellbeing support to the profession, including peer support and counselling
  • Raise awareness of wellbeing, encourage people to seek support and encourage mental health related conversations which are all highlighted annually via the ACTNow wellbeing campaign
  • Support employers and managers to create the right working environment and culture for good mental health and wellbeing in pharmacy through the provision of tools, resources and training
  • Support individuals to prioritise their wellbeing by sharing tools, approaches and practical tips
  • Develop and promote its addiction support service to encourage and support more people who may need help to seek support
  • Continue to raise awareness of all the supports services offered by the charity
  • Commit to working with the RPS to repeat this survey annually to monitor change and identify new priority areas

Over the last three years we have developed policy asks which we have used to advocate for change for the profession.

Wins from our policy asks

The information in the surveys has also helped both RPS and PS to develop and host other support resources such as RPS Wellbeing Hub , the Wardley Wellbeing Service , ACTNow campaign , a new wellbeing learning platform and a new counselling service .

With growing pressures, our survey results show how government and the NHS must take steps to retain the current workforce and attract new pharmacists to meet demand.

It is vital that workplace cultures are conducive to positive mental health and wellbeing, which in turn will have a positive impact on patient care and safety. Our workplans and strategies for 2022 will reflect this year's results.

Creating a culture in pharmacy that actively protects and enhances mental health and wellbeing will require concerted and collective action across the profession. The responsibility for change falls with many including employers, regulators, professional bodies, governments, educational institutes and individuals.

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.

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

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If you're struggling to manage your wellbeing, 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 their website at pharmacistsupport.org or call 0808 168 2233 or email [email protected].