The ability to recruit skilled employees varies by location but there is general recognition that there are huge issues recruiting and retaining pharmacists and support staff, resulting in locum pharmacists’ hourly rates skyrocketing.
This blog will discuss the impact of workforce challenges and share ideas to build resilience.
Workforce Issues during the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic created a sudden and unprecedented demand for healthcare services. With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, healthcare providers struggled to meet the needs of patients. The situation was further complicated by the fact that healthcare workers were at high risk of contracting the virus, leading to many becoming ill or having to isolate due to contact with infected patients. This resulted in a shortage of healthcare workers across all industries, including pharmacy.
Pharmacies were hit hard by the pandemic. With the increased demand for medications and medical supplies, pharmacies saw a surge in patient volumes. Additionally, the need for COVID-19 testing and vaccination added to the workload of pharmacists and technicians. As a result, pharmacies faced a shortage of staff, which created significant challenges in meeting the needs of patients.
One of the main reasons for the shortage of staff in pharmacies was the increased workload. This added pressure to the entire team, especially pharmacists and technicians who took on additional responsibilities, such as administering COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. This led to a significant increase in workload, making it difficult to keep up with the demand.
Another reason for the shortage of staff in pharmacies was the fear of contracting the virus. Healthcare workers, including pharmacy staff, were at high risk of contracting the virus due to their exposure to infected patients. This fear led many healthcare workers to take sick leave or quit altogether.
The shortage of staff in all healthcare settings had a significant impact on patient care. Patients experienced longer waiting times, delays in receiving medication, and difficulties in accessing healthcare services.
Long-term Effects on the Pharmacy Workforce
The pandemic placed an enormous strain on healthcare workers, including those in the pharmacy workforce. The increased workload, stress, and anxiety related to the pandemic have led to high levels of burnout among pharmacists and technicians.
Burnout is an occupational phenomenon and "is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions:
Burnout can have a long-term impact on the pharmacy workforce, leading to reduced job satisfaction, increased turnover rates, and decreased productivity.
The pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of the pharmacy workforce, particularly when it comes to staffing shortages. While the pandemic created an immediate need for additional staff, the long-term effects on the workforce are likely to persist. Many pharmacists and technicians have left the workforce due to burnout, illness, or other factors, whilst others have sought to move into a role in a Primary Care Network (PCN).
The pandemic led to changes in the roles of pharmacy staff. For example, pharmacists and technicians took on new responsibilities related to COVID-19 testing and vaccination. These changes in roles may have long-term effects on the workforce, as they require new skills and competencies.
Recruitment of Pharmacists into Primary Care Networks (PCNs)
The recruitment of pharmacists into PCNs in England has impacted community pharmacy recruitment. As PCNs continue to expand their role in patient care, many pharmacists are being drawn to these roles, leaving community pharmacies with a shortage of skilled professionals.
PCNs offer pharmacists the opportunity to work more closely with other healthcare providers, such as GPs and nurses, and to take on a wider range of responsibilities, including prescribing and medication reviews. This can be an attractive prospect for pharmacists who are looking to broaden their skills and advance their careers.
However, the increased demand for pharmacists in PCNs has left many community pharmacies struggling to recruit and retain skilled professionals. This can significantly impact patient care, as community pharmacists play a vital role in providing medication advice, managing long-term conditions, and ensuring the safe and effective use of medications.
To address this issue, there have been calls for greater investment and for more support to be provided to community pharmacists. This could include increased funding for training and development, as well as incentives to encourage pharmacists to work in community pharmacies.
Increasing Resilience to Cope with Workforce Issues
Workforce issues such as staffing shortages and increased workloads can pose significant challenges to pharmacies, affecting their ability to provide high-quality patient care. It is essential for pharmacies to build resilience to cope with these challenges and ensure continuity of service delivery. Here are some strategies that pharmacies can adopt to increase their resilience:
Here are some key strategies to help manage workload effectively:
In conclusion, workforce issues can pose significant challenges to pharmacies, affecting their ability to provide high-quality patient care. Pharmacies can build resilience by developing contingency plans, cross-training staff, leveraging technology, fostering a culture of resilience, and monitoring and managing risk. By adopting these strategies, pharmacies can ensure continuity of service delivery and meet the healthcare needs of their communities during challenging times.
The long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the pharmacy workforce are likely to persist for some time. It will be important for pharmacies to address these issues to ensure that they are able to continue providing high-quality care to their patients.
MedAdvisor Medication Management App
When it comes to managing medication, the MedAdvisor solution is a popular choice.
To book a call and find out more click here.
6th Floor, Manfield House,
1 Southampton Street,
London, WC2R 0LR
MedAdvisor Welam UK Limited is a limited company registered in England and Wales.
Registered number: 11292305.