THE recent story in the Guardian newspaper has raised some significant issues, but it’s important not to get distracted by the headline about MURs, or single out one company.
Community pharmacists are enduring severe workplace pressures and there appears to be no help for them – that’s the bottom line. Moreover, this pressure is being amplified by professional expectations (GPhC Standards) which get trotted out as if it’s simply a case of standing up, being professional (by refusing to work in the conditions) and the issue will simply vanish as management comply to appease disgruntled workers.
That simply doesn’t work.
I know of pharmacists who are at the end of the line: emotionally, physically and professionally as a result of the perpetual stress and lack of support, which threatens to wrench them from a profession they hitherto loved. They have spoken to management many times and have been labelled trouble makers for raising concerns.
One can argue that pharmacy businesses are only trying to claim back money that they are due as part of the global sum, without which they would be out of pocket (after all MUR money isn’t new money) but at what expense? This is a symptom of an underfunded pharmacy network, but it doesn’t justify it. Things aren’t going to get any better.
Mark Koziol, chairman of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has it spot on, the profession is in self-denial and the workplace pressure problem has been swept under the carpet for too long. It makes uncomfortable reading, but it’s time these pharmacists got the support they deserved and the perpetrators were called to account, or patient care will continue to suffer.
And let’s not make this about employers (contractors) being evil and employees being good, or myopically focus on MURs – it’s much bigger than that.
What we need is robust and determined professional leadership to tackle this serious issue head on. And we need it now.