A pharmacist working and holding a tablet device.

LONDON, Feb. 22, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In the midst of what industry analysts are calling a “workforce crisis” in UK community pharmacy, 81% of pharmacists said they had considered leaving their job in the 12 months leading up to October 2022, according to a recent industry survey.

Other key survey findings include:

  • Of 392 pharmacists employed by a high-street community pharmacy, 42.6% said they had actively looked for another job.
  • 75% of 204 pharmacy support staff respondents, including pharmacy technicians and counter assistants, said they had considered leaving their job in the 12 months leading up to October 2022.
  • A combined 79% of 596 pharmacy workers said they had considered leaving their job in the 12 months leading up to October 2022.
  • Of these, 44.2% said they had actively looked for other work

The survey was conducted by Chemist+Druggist (C+D), the leading source of news commentary and analysis for the UK community pharmacy industry, between Oct. 25, 2022 and Jan. 20, 2023, and was completed by 1,480 pharmacists and pharmacy staff.

“These statistics highlight a sector in crisis,” said C+D Editor Beth Kennedy. “Mounting stress, an untenable workload and lack of financial support from the government have culminated in a mass exodus from community pharmacy. This cannot be allowed to continue.”

Additional findings attribute job dissatisfaction to understaffing, workload and stress:

  • Increasing workloads were a major problem, with 92.2% of employed pharmacists saying their workload had increased over the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • There were widespread reports of inadequate staffing levels in pharmacies, with 70.7% of 410 employed pharmacists saying staffing levels were either “quite low” with 17% reporting they were “so low they are dangerous.” Employed pharmacists include community pharmacist branch managers, community pharmacist area managers, second or non-manager community pharmacists and superintendent community pharmacists.
  • Unrealistic workloads were also of concern, with 65.4% of 417 employed pharmacists reporting that their workload was often or always unrealistic. Of these, over one in five (21.5%) said their workload was always unrealistic.

“Many respondents to the C+D Salary Survey 2022 revealed they were thinking of giving up salaried work to become locum pharmacists, or even moving away from pharmacy entirely,” Kennedy said.

Primary care networks have been accused of luring pharmacists and pharmacy technicians away from communities and into emerging roles within their ranks. This in turn has led to speculation that unfilled posts and rising locum rates are adding to a growing pattern of temporary pharmacy closures, with community pharmacies being forced to shorten their hours, typically due as a result of being short-staffed.

“Community pharmacies are a vital resource for the most vulnerable in our society,” said Kennedy. “The government must act now to fund pharmacy fairly, allowing employers to retain their staff with better pay and working conditions, ensuing a community pharmacy workforce that is fit for the future.”

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