The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is calling on the Australian public to check in with their local pharmacist, and reminds all pharmacists that support is available.
Today, 9th September, is R U OK? Day, the annual occasion that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others navigate through difficult times in their lives.
PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, paid tribute to the efforts of Australian pharmacists since the pandemic began, and drew attention to the stresses that they face on a daily basis.
“If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it is the extreme stress that is placed on healthcare systems and the healthcare workforce, including pharmacists.
“Pharmacists, as Australia’s most accessible healthcare workforce, are subjected to immense pressure every day of the week. Comparatively low wages, extended working hours, constant regulatory and practice changes, along with verbal and physical abuse from patients are all contributing factors leading to burnout within the profession.
“Pharmacists in all settings are dealing with frequent out of stocks, considerable changes to workflow, and wearing of PPE to reduce the risk of transmission to themselves, their team and their patients. In order to meet rapidly changing demand, they are having to rationalise medicines and medical equipment for the most vulnerable patients, adding another level of stress to an already demanding job.
“Given the high degree of risk associated with our profession, pharmacist welfare is something that is often overlooked. Most of us have seen footage in the media where pharmacists or pharmacy staff have been threatened by violence, and whilst these aren’t common occurrences, it is unnerving nonetheless.
“Working as a pharmacist is not an easy task, and the perception that individual pharmacies generate significant revenue is not the case – it is a very fine line between success and failure, and pharmacists are some of the hardest working members of the health care team. Challenges that they face have significant flow on effects for their staff, family, and Australians seeking accessible care.
“Pharmacists have stood tall during the pandemic, keeping their doors open so patients can continue to access their medicines experts, particularly when other health professionals were not available.
“The welfare of Australian pharmacists will always be the number one priority for the PSA.
“I would also like to remind everyone that PSA offers support and professional advice through our Pharmacist to Pharmacist Support Line on 1300 369 772 and through our Professional Practice Standards.
“I call on all Australians to be mindful of the pressures that their pharmacists face and encourage you all to ask your pharmacist if they’re ok – remembering that a conversation can quite literally change a life,” A/Prof Freeman said.