The Chamber of Pharmacists of Slovenia warns of the lack of staff, both in public and hospital pharmacies. The reasons for employees leaving pharmacies and difficulties in recruiting new ones are the low valuation of their work and ever-increasing workloads.
At the press conference, the Chamber of Pharmacists explained that pharmacies provide a range of services that are not recorded and evaluated anywhere. These services must be placed in the system, evaluated, and funding must be provided for them, as well as personnel for their implementation, emphasized the president of the chamber Darja Potočnik Benčič and added that it is also necessary to adopt norms for pharmacy activity.
The Chamber of Pharmacists estimates that it would need at least 300 additional masters of pharmacy and specialists in various disciplines, both at the primary level, i.e. in public pharmacies, and in hospital pharmacies. The financing of specializations should be regulated in the same way as it is regulated for doctors.
According to the concessionaire at Lekarna Tolmin Martine Klanjšček in the pharmacy business, where he has been working for almost 50 years, the way he works has completely changed in all these years. If in the past the pharmacist’s main task was to provide the necessary supplies of medicines, and they also made a lot of them themselves, nowadays they hardly make medicines in pharmacies anymore, and they devote most of their time to the patient. At the same time, the service system for evaluation of work, which was established at the end of the 70s of the last century, is still valid.
At the same time, they warn that they are at the time of the epidemic covid-19 and with more difficult access to doctors, the burden on pharmacists increased even more. The doors of pharmacies are open without restrictions. Patients look to them for help on how to get medication and advice on how to solve their problems without a doctor.
When the drugs are dispensed, pharmacists advise them on their correct use, warn of possible side effects, and also check interactions between drugs, as some use several types of them at the same time.
As Potočnik Benčič explained, ordering prescriptions by phone and e-mail, where orders are often taken by nurses, sometimes even administratorsresulting in numerous prescription errors, from wrong dosage forms, wrong dosages and, worst of all for patients, no medicine at all.
According to the specialist in clinical pharmacy, employed at Gorenjska lekarne, Patricia Dolinar it would be irresponsible to let patients leave the pharmacy without (the right) medicine in such cases, so they become “detectives and police officers” for recipes.
Manager of the pharmacy in Šmarje pri Jelše Katja Turnšek Sambolić also emphasized the problems of patients with controlled chronic diseases: “As access to doctors is still often difficult and many patients do not have a personal doctor of their choice, it often takes quite a long time for patients to get prescriptions. The elderly in particular return to the pharmacy several times to check whether the prescriptions have already been prescribed.”
Urgent evaluation of pharmacy services
In the Chamber of Pharmacy, they propose that masters of pharmacy should be given the authority to prolong the therapy of a chronic patient with an established therapy, based on their professional judgment. They emphasize that they are not against new burdens, but a new evaluation of pharmacy services and additional staff are necessary.
According to the director of Celjski lekarn Lilijane Grosek despite severe staffing difficulties, pharmacies and concessionaires strive to ensure as uninterrupted access to pharmacy services as possible, but during the epidemic they were already forced in some places to temporarily shorten their business or opening time of individual pharmacies and branches. “The situation is very uncertain and even where the situation is under control by force, they are predicting that they will be forced to reduce or occasionally close pharmacies,” she warned.