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Overworked and unsafe: pharmacists left exposed on the frontline of COVID-19

MEDIA RELEASE: 7 May 2020: New research finds the COVID-19 pandemic has created extraordinary new pressures for pharmacists, including a massive increase in workload, raising serious concern about safety.

The survey of 640 pharmacists finds conditions were so difficult that half of all pharmacy workers were considering leaving the profession or have already decided to do so.

Professional Pharmacists Australia CEO Gordon Brock said pharmacy workers were struggling with overwork and unsafe conditions due to COVID-19.

“There’s been a massive influx of customers, some of whom may be infected with COVID-19,” said Mr Brock.

“Around a third of pharmacists believe members of the public with COVID-19 have visited their store and many believed sufficient safety precautions were not being adopted universally.

“The COVID-19 crisis has led to a massive increase in workload for pharmacists with over 72% dispensing more prescriptions than before the pandemic. To keep up, pharmacists were pushed to the limit with 42% working extra hours and one in three working through their breaks to keep up with massive demand.

He said this is putting both staff and customers at risk with no time for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, for example.

“1 in 5 pharmacies are not disinfecting the working environment, and 1 in 4 are not directing potentially infected patients to the COVID-19 hotline.

“Only 40% of pharmacies are providing COVID-19 specific training to staff and less than half have been given access to personal protective equipment.

“What’s deeply concerning is that the failure of employers to properly support pharmacists throughout the COVID-19 crisis may result in an exodus from the industry.

“49% of pharmacists were considering leaving the profession or have already decided to do so and 66% of these said their employer’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis directly contributed to their decision.

“Pharmacists are on the frontline in the battle against COVID-19. They should be supported by additional staff and provided with appropriate training, personal protective clothing and safe working conditions.”

website: Professional Pharmacists Australia



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