Locums and community pharmacists working for small businesses missing out on appraisals

Only 17 per cent of pharmacists who work in small community pharmacy businesses, and 14 per cent of community pharmacy locums, have had an appraisal in the past year, a finding that the General Pharmaceutical Council says may influence how its policy on revalidation develops.

The data are revealed in a of the GPhC’s first major survey of 15,553 pharmacists and 13,515 pharmacy technicians, published last week (3 April 2014).


Source: Alexander Raths / Dreamstime.com

Appraisals were more likely to be carried out by peers in small community pharmacy businesses than in large multiples

The survey found that appraisals are more common in the hospital sector than in the community sector, with 80 per cent of pharmacists working in hospitals and 51 per cent of pharmacists working in the community reporting having had an appraisal in the past 12 months. However, those in large multiples were more likely to have had an appraisal (69 per cent) than those working for small businesses (defined as four or fewer pharmacies; 17 per cent).

The GPhC also found a difference in the approach to appraisals between different employers. In hospitals and small businesses, appraisals were more likely to be carried out by a peer (94 per cent and 80 per cent, respectively) than in large multiples (52 per cent). Learning and development needs were also more likely to be discussed with pharmacists working in hospitals (95 per cent) and small businesses (74 per cent) than with those working in large multiples (66 per cent). This, says the GPhC in its , is significant because the draft framework for assuring the continuing fitness to practise of pharmacy professionals (previously referred to as revalidation) includes a peer review component.

“The findings provide clear evidence that we need to further consider the policy development for continuing fitness to practise, in relation to the use and weight we can place on appraisals for those working as a locum, self-employed and [on a] contractor basis,” the GPhC says, adding that peer support and scrutiny are critical.

The findings also confirm that, if appraisals are to figure as a significant part of any continuing fitness-to-practise process, significant work would be required with professional leadership bodies and employers to build on existing appraisal systems, says the GPhC.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin told PJ Online that it would be useful if the profession were to design a quality assured appraisal system for those pharmacists who operate in organisations that do not have one.

Limited opportunities to prescribe

The survey also highlighted that pharmacist prescribers seem to lack opportunities to prescribe, with only 61 per cent having prescribed in the past 12 months. Furthermore, 40 per cent of those who had prescribed in the past year, prescribed for five patients or fewer in a typical week.

Prescribers reported working in various settings (and could give more than one setting in response to the survey question). They predominantly worked in hospitals (61 per cent), followed by primary care (30 per cent) and community (13 per cent).

“The low numbers of patients being seen by prescribers … is a clear indication that there is a gap between the original policy intent and the reality on the ground. The survey will be an important benchmark, and possibly stimulus, against which the major initiatives in all three GB countries can be considered,” the GPhC says.

It adds that it will be able to use the data to inform its review of standards of initial education and training of pharmacists as well as standards for the accreditation of independent prescribing programmes.

Women make up 60.4 per cent of the pharmacist workforce. Almost three-quarters of pharmacists (72 per cent) work in community pharmacy, followed by 23 per cent in hospital, 6 per cent in primary care, 2.3 per cent in the pharmaceutical industry, 2 per cent in education and 3 per cent in “other” settings. Large multiples were the primary employers in the community sector, employing 40 per cent of community pharmacists, with small pharmacy businesses employing 21 per cent and other multiples employing 11 per cent.

Overall, 81 per cent of pharmacists reported having one job; 10 per cent reported having two jobs; and 3 per cent had three or more jobs. Pharmacists worked an average of 35.7 hours per week — less than the 37.6 hours per week worked by the “economically active population” as a whole. Part-time working was most common in primary care, with 42 per cent of staff in this sector working part-time hours.

Only 2 per cent of pharmacists reported being unemployed, compared with 7.6 per cent of the economically active population.

The survey was launched in August 2013 and asked 30,000 pharmacists and all pharmacy technicians about their work, practice and responsibilities. The GPhC says that the results will be used to inform its ongoing work to improve the way pharmacy professionals and services are regulated, including developing new approaches to assuring the continuing fitness to practise of registrants and the quality of education and training.

The GPhC has produced an to the data.

Citation: The Salvadore DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11137067

Readers' comments (1)

  • The only thing that surprises me here is that 14% of locums report having received an appraisal...? I'm intrigued as to how one would carry out a performance appraisal on a person who is not an employee?

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