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- Issue 81: April 2009
- Issue 80: March 2009
- Issue 79: February 2009
- Issue 78: December 2008
- Issue 77: November 2008
- Issue 76: October 2008
- Issue 75: September 2008
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- Issue 73: July 2008
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End of Year Reminiscences

Heather Pym
A Division of General Practice Perspective

Issue 78: December 2008
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Having found a position in my pharmacy career where I am comfortable with my professionalism being appreciated and uncompremised, and reflecting on some past situations, I was interested this week to read on the Internet a survey conducted by AusPharm on work pressures that are now of concern to many working at the coal face in pharmacies.

It was quoted that 48 % of the respondents were under a workload where they felt their professionalism was compromised significantly several hours a day. Another cohort of 39% reported being compromised occasionally.

So 87% of pharmacist working where there is no margin for error in a profession where patients’ lives are at stake with decisions made on their behalf, are allowing the work conditions and the pressures encountered to impinge on the delivery of services where dire consequences could be a result.

I am sure that as a result of this situation many pharmacists would be less than happy at work and many could well be contemplating moving out of the profession. Indeed during my visits to pharmacies and discussion with pharmacists on professional services in conjunction with General Practitioners I am aware of many that are actively planning to do so.

There has been discussion also on volumes of scripts dispensed and the recommendations for Pharmacy Boards to regulate this. Is it not a question of adequate staff, including adequate pharmacist staff at any one time?

Working in a General Practice Network I do not see patient’s compromised in the medical services they receive. I do see many patients waiting longer than they may well be happy with and practice staff being complemented with Practice nurses who can provide some of the health care in a surgery. Patients would complain if their health were jeopardised at this level.

Why are there not more complaints from the public about the pharmacy services that customers receive when so many pharmacists are recognising inadequate delivery of their profession?
Do they not expect good counselling or the CMI delivered and explained?
Or are they satisfied with supply of medications only?
It seems that they are not prepared to wait on good professional service and are impatient for their medicines after a long wait at the GP.

Another area of compromise in our profession is the lack of good communication from the GP to the pharmacist in the interest of the patient relating to indications for which a medicine is prescribed. Pharmacists are ‘flying in the dark’ professionally without this information and are compromised every time they are unaware of the indication when counselling a patient.

I see much opportunity for developing professional services in pharmacy. Apart from extra and new services that are developing, some attention to the core services of patient care on traditional fronts needs to be given and taken seriously. Pharmacists are not only supply machines but also bearers of an essential expertise that must be allowed and encouraged to be delivered professionally at the coalface.

Despite the perils of Christmas and perhaps an increase in the frustration of delivering great and satisfying professional service at this ‘end of year’ I wish all readers a happy holiday period and a New Year of Peace and goodwill.


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