Community pharmacists have less time to spend with patients because they have to spend so much time completing paperwork, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has said.
A new report commissioned by the IPU has found that excessive bureaucracy and unnecessary regulations are frustrating current pharmacists and are making it difficult to attract new graduates into the field. This could lead to a shortage of community pharmacists in the future.
"The report found that excessive red tape, bureaucracy and administration is one of the biggest drawbacks to a career in community pharmacy. The research shows that this is making it difficult to attract new graduates into the community pharmacy sector and to retain pharmacists in their current roles," explained pharmacist and IPU member, Sheila O'Loughlin.
She noted that some of the biggest concerns relate to the large amount of paperwork needed for the HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Scheme (PCRS), ‘and the pressure of ensuring compliance with regulatory guidelines'.
"We all recognise the importance of checks and balances, and safety is something a pharmacist would never compromise. However, 98% of pharmacists state that they are required to spend too much time on paperwork, which means time away from our patients. Almost half of pharmacists now believe the sector is over-regulated, which is creating constant pressure," Ms O'Loughlin said.
She insisted that while Ireland produces some of the most qualified pharmacists in the world, ‘our system is content to consign them to a career of administration'. This, she added, is having a major impact on the profession.
"Fewer and fewer pharmacists now say they would recommend community pharmacy to a student today. We are therefore calling on the regulators, particularly the HSE PCRS and Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), to work with us to review and reduce the level of unnecessary bureaucracy foisted on community pharmacists.
"Doing so will signal a commitment to would-be community pharmacists that their role does matter as a key professional in the healthcare service, and is not just a quasi-administrative role, which involves frustrating hours chasing paperwork and complying with unnecessary bureaucracy," Ms O'Loughlin said.
She made her comments at the IPU National Pharmacy Conference in Galway at the weekend.