Exploring the experiences and opinions of hospital pharmacists working 24/7 shifts

Penny Lewis, Abbey Forster, Matthew Magowan, Debra Armstrong

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Objectives: The expansion of out of hours pharmacy services results from a drive to improve patient care and promote integration into the wider healthcare team. However, there has been little attempt to explore these intended outcomes as well as the potential problems arising from working out of hours. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and views of pharmacists who work shifts as part of a 24/7 pharmacy service.

Methods: Semi structured interviews with shift working pharmacists were conducted. Data were analysed using a framework approach.

Results: Pharmacists described the positive impact they had on patient safety by ensuring the prompt supply of time critical medicines and their proactive role in preventing adverse drug events. Pharmacists’ onsite presence and attendance at handover promoted integration into the wider team and facilitated unplanned interventions. However, requests for non-urgent supplies were a source of frustration. Disparity of pharmacists’ perceptions of senior support demonstrated a need to explore communication further and the importance of non-technical skills, such as communication in service provision. Shift work appeared to be a double-edged sword for work-life balance, preventing participation in regular hobbies, but providing flexibility. Service improvements could include technician support, greater feedback provision and improved ordering processes.

Conclusions: Overall, pharmacists believed the shift service exhibited numerous advantages over a traditional remote on-call service, particularly in improving aspects of patient safety and integration into the wider healthcare team. Clarity of the service scope and development of non-technical skills are areas for improvement and development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Hospital Pharmacy
Early online date7 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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