World news wrapup: 29 April 2021


Large chain pharmacists overworked and understaffed, study finds; man harasses Phuket pharmacy customers, wipes saliva on door; Kiwi pharmacists welcome health overhaul

Ohio, US: The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has surveyed pharmacists working in various environments, and found that those working at large chain retail pharmacies are overworked and worried about patient safety.

The survey received the largest response from those working at these large chain pharmacies – including drugstores as well as grocery store pharmacies – and the “vast majority… said they did not feel they had sufficient staffing for patient safety, and that they felt pressured to meet metrics that could interfere with patient care,” reports NBC News’ Adiel Kaplan.

A tenth of these pharmacists said they work shifts of 13 hours or more.

NBC News provided examples of responses, such as “12 hours is too long for single pharmacist to work. It is unsafe after about hour 10: eye fatigue, brain fatigue, and not as fresh and alert as at beginning of shift”.

Another respondent wrote that “The working conditions are very dangerous… They are constantly cutting hours and expecting us to do more with less. I feel like there are at least 1‐2 dispensing errors every month in my pharmacy. If we were allowed to work at a safe pace, this would be completely avoidable.”

In response, the Board voted unanimously to form a committee which will make recommendations to manage these issues.

 

Phuket Town, Thailand: Amporn Boonyaudomsart has spoken out about a lack of response, after she complained that a man had been harassing her customers, and had wiped saliva on the door of her pharmacy.

The Phuket News reports that Ms Amporn had filed a police complaint about the man in mid-April.

“Before this, I had given him some money, but not often. However, after I did not give him [any money], he started standing in front of my shop and staring into the shop. He sometimes even asked my customers for money, making customers feel annoyed and afraid,” she said.

“He also smeared his saliva by his hand on my door frame once.”

CCTV footage showed the man licking his finger and wiping the saliva on the pharmacy’s door frame.

“I and my staff felt insecure, so we contacted Phuket City Police and other officials, such as the Phuket Center for the Protection of the Homeless under the Department of Social Development and Welfare,” she wrote on Facebook.

But while police told her action would be taken, she was not contacted again by them, she said.

Police had identified the man as a young local with a disability.

However they told the Phuket News that there had been no complaint received about his behaviour and that they had not taken him into custody.

Ms Amporn said that she is frightened for her safety and that of her relatives, customers and friends, and called for the offender to be assessed and given help.

 

New Zealand: The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand has welcomed the Government health system reforms which were announced on 21 April, saying it sees these as a blueprint for strengthening the health and disability system for all New Zealanders.

Guild Chief Executive, Andrew Gaudin, says the reforms address concerns around access, equity, service levels, sustainability and workforce, and the Guild supports the newly announced entities which will deliver on these changes.

“The consolidation of the 20 DHBs [District Health Boards] into a national organisation – Health New Zealand – will enable improved oversight of service contracting and commissioning decisions,” he said.

“Coupled with the new Māori Health Authority, the Public Health Agency, and a refocused Ministry of Health providing system monitoring and advice, these new entities will ensure greater equity, and support enhanced integration of primary and community care.”

The Guild says it feels that over time, these new entities will support an expanded range of community pharmacy services nationally, and increased investment in primary and community care to keep New Zealanders well and out of hospital.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to bold structural change and to moving swiftly to deliver on a newly defined vision ‘to build a system which achieves pae ora: healthy futures for all New Zealanders,’” Mr Gaudin says.

The Guild notes this first step to establish these entities is due for completion by July 2022.

Beyond these imminent structural changes, further enabling system changes must be made in areas such as funding, workforce and digital health, it warns.

“Both the wider changes and imminent structural reforms will enable meaningful change to care and to improving health and wellbeing outcomes,” Mr Gaudin says.

“The Guild will work closely with the government, the Health and Disability System Transition Unit, and these new entities in the coming months and years, on how the direction of travel for reforms outlined this week will work well in practice, including with our community pharmacy members on the front line.”

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