The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pharmacy personnel in primary care

Weir, Natalie and Newham, Rosemary and Dunlop, Emma and Ferguson, Aimee and Bennie, Marion (2022) The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pharmacy personnel in primary care. Primary Health Care Research & Development, 23. e56. ISSN 1463-4236 (

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Introduction The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted healthcare worldwide. It has altered service delivery and posed challenges to practitioners in relation to workload, wellbeing and support. Within primary care, changes in physicians' activities have been identified and innovative work solutions implemented. However, evidence is lacking regarding the impact of the pandemic on pharmacy personnel who work in primary care. Aim To explore the impact of the pandemic on the working practice (including the type of services provided) and job satisfaction of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians within Scottish general practice. Due to the stressful nature of the pandemic, we hypothesise that job satisfaction will have been negatively affected. Methods An online questionnaire was distributed in May-July 2021, approximately 15 months since initial lockdown measures in the UK. The questionnaire was informed by previous literature, and underwent expert review and piloting. Analysis involved descriptive statistics, non-parametric statistical tests, and thematic analysis. Results 180 participants responded (approximated 16.1% response rate): 134 pharmacists (74.4%) and 46 technicians (25.6%). Responses indicated greater involvement with administrative tasks and a reduction in the provision of clinical services, which was negatively perceived by pharmacists. There was an increase in remote working, although most participants continued to have a physical presence within general practices. Face-to-face interactions with patients reduced, which was negatively perceived by participants, and telephone consults were considered efficient yet less effective. Professional development activities were challenged by increased workloads and reduced support available. Although workplace stress was apparent, there was no indication of widespread job dissatisfaction. Conclusion The pandemic has impacted pharmacists and technicians but it is unknown if changes will be permanent, and there is a need to understand which changes should continue. Future research should explore the impact of altered service delivery, including remote working, on patient care.