Safety and wellbeing of staff (including individual risk assessments)
Published on: 30th March 2020 | Updated on: 10th June 2022
Protecting the safety and maintaining the health and wellbeing of pharmacy team members is a high priority for pharmacy contractors and the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This page contains information on resources to support the health and safety of pharmacy team members, including through undertaking individual risk assessments with staff. It also contains links to resources to support the wellbeing of staff during the pandemic.
Section last updated: 6th June 2022
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) requested all NHS providers, including pharmacy contractors, to complete individual risk assessments for at least staff in at-risk groups (including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff) by 24th July 2020.
A letter from NHSE&I outlined the responsibilities of employers as well as the support available to help them, including an annex highlighting examples of good practice.
Support on undertaking staff risk assessments is available from the following organisations:
- NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) – also see their webinar for community pharmacy
- NHS Employers
- Faculty of Occupational Medicine
- General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)
- National Pharmacy Association (NPA)
- Pharmacists’ Defence Association
- Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS)
In March 2021, NHSE&I published a letter for primary care contractors on supporting clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) staff when shielding was paused from 1st April 2021.
It advised that employers, should refresh risk assessments for all CEV staff to determine the appropriate work arrangements from 1st April 2021, reflecting the current workplace context, as well as including next steps to support these staff members.
During the pandemic there have been reports of security incidents at community pharmacies, including some where members of the public have been abusive to staff.
PSNC and the other national pharmacy bodies have had discussions with senior police representatives regarding the safety of community pharmacy teams and premises during the pandemic. The National Police Chiefs’ Council has issued the following guidance for community pharmacy teams:
LPCs may also be able to raise any security concerns with local police forces and the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Primary care staff respect materials (November 2021)
In recognition of the increasing abuse and violence that primary care teams now regularly face, the NHS has published a suite of downloadable materials and guidance for use by primary care staff to encourage patients to treat NHS staff with respect.
The materials include posters, social media graphics and display screen graphics that feature NHS staff working across England and carry the message ‘We are here to help you. Thank you for treating us with respect’.
A poster template is also available which allows community pharmacy teams to feature photographs of their own staff with the same messages.
Pharmacists and their teams have been spending all of their time through this pandemic serving their patients and their communities. Amidst the pace of the days it is often too easy to forget about your own wellbeing and that of your teams.
Please take some time to take care of yourselves and your teams so you can continue to take care of your patients and your communities; we hope the tools below will help you to do so.
LPCs can find further information on how to support their contractors on our Mental Health Support page (LPC Members only).
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) have organised a range of psychological support for all NHS staff, including those working in primary care, during the COVID-19 outbreak.
There is support on the NHS Our People website in the form of access to helplines and apps, as well as access to short 10-20 minute online guides to help develop new skills and help improve your experience at work. They have also introduced a confidential staff support line, operated by the Samaritans, which is free to access from 7.00 am – 11.00 pm, seven days a week.
Staff mental health and wellbeing hubs
Healthcare staff, including community pharmacy teams, now have rapid access to mental health services and support, courtesy of a series of mental health and wellbeing hubs.
Each of these hubs offers free and confidential clinical assessments by trained mental health professionals plus access to talking therapies and other secondary care mental health services to those who need it. Please check on the NHSE&I website to find your local hub.
NHSE&I has also worked with NHS Practitioner Health to set up an enhanced mental health service to which wellbeing hubs can refer primary care health team members with more complex needs. This service offers access to prescribing clinicians, addiction services and interventions focused on trauma.
Confidential coaching support available to primary care individuals and leaders
NHSE&I are offering those who work in primary care settings, including community pharmacy, confidential coaching to build wellbeing, resilience and positive team cultures.
- #LookingAfterYouToo has seen over 7,000 individual coaching sessions booked. It has been incredibly well-received and highly rated by those using the service.
- #LookingAfterYourTeam launched in January 2021, and is available to those who lead, manage or organise a team or group in primary care. This offer is centred around compassionate and collaborative team leadership, helping leaders and managers to explore team topics and clarify their thinking.
Pharmacist Support resources
Pharmacist Support is the profession’s independent charity for pharmacists and their families, former pharmacists, trainees and MPharm students.
The charity’s free and confidential support includes a suite of wellbeing resources – delivered through webinars and factsheets – aimed at helping individuals identify the signs and symptoms of stress and equipping them with tools and techniques to help deal with feelings of pressure.
It can be difficult for pharmacy staff to find time to prioritise their own needs so the ACTNow campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of wellbeing. The campaign encourages community pharmacy teams to:
Allow time for wellbeing
Consider needs of your colleagues
As part of the campaign, Pharmacist Support has developed a central resource hub, named the Wardley Wellbeing Hub, where you can take ACTion to manage those every day pressures and worries.
For more information on this topic please email firstname.lastname@example.org