Third of pharmacists unable to supply medicines to patients because of shortages

Pharmacy press

The Pharmaceutical Journal’s annual salary and job satisfaction survey found that a third of 1,578 pharmacists say they are unable to supply medicines to ten or more patients per week because of medicine shortages. The survey also found that 50% of respondents reported medicine shortages as a source of stress and 15% spend over 10 hours per week on activities relating to medicine shortages.

Director of Legal, Gordon Hockey, said:

“Medicines supply and pricing issues are an ongoing battle for community pharmacy teams and their patients. Our own Pharmacy Pressures Survey this year found that almost all of the pharmacy staff surveyed reported that they are experiencing extra workload (97%) and additional stress (96%) due to supply issues, and even more reported that patients are frustrated (98%) and inconvenienced (97%) by these issues. 87% of pharmacy teams members said that patient health is being put at risk due to medicines supply issues.

Whilst pharmacy teams are working immeasurably hard doing their best for patients in the face of all kinds of pressures, supply issues simply aren’t within their gift to solve. The situation shows little sign of improving after years of turbulence and, with patient safety at risk, the Government urgently needs to step in and help stabilise the medicines market. Measures like Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs) are helpful, but they are blunt and complex tools, and we urge Ministers to consider greater flexibility for pharmacists to carry out simple changes, such as quantity, strength and formulation changes, without the need for prescriber authorisation. Pharmacists are eminently qualified to do this. Hospital pharmacists have been doing this for years and community pharmacists should be similarly able to help patients.”