Pharmacist Shortage 2023:

Pharmacist Shortage 2023: Causes and What to Know

Why is There a Pharmacist shortage? The Home Office’s shortage occupation list was updated to include pharmacists in March 2021. This raised concerns about how to handle the situation. In England, the number of open positions for community pharmacists has doubled in the last four years, with the South West having the highest rates.

As a result of a lack of qualified local candidates, pharmacists have been added to the government’s “shortage occupation list.” This defines the professions that can hire foreign workers with fewer limitations. Lab technicians, carers for the elderly, and nursing assistants are additional occupations included on the list. Let us address this issue in this article.

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Why is There Pharmacy technician shortages

According to sources who spoke with The Pharmacy, Burnout is a concern for pharmacists across the U.K. This was happening as labor shortages raised locum tenens prices.

Pharmacies and locum tenens agencies have stated that staff has had to work longer hours to keep up with their workload. This is due to a combination of workforce challenges. Also, they claim that hiring pharmacists partly causes them to go into primary care networks (PCNs) and high locum tenens rates.

Fiona McElrea, a pharmacist and prescriber who owns Whithorn Pharmacy in Dumfries and Galloway, declared, “We haven’t been this hectic before.” “This is a serious problem.” We don’t take vacation days because, in my mind, it wouldn’t be fair to pay £65 per hour when I was working.

“I’m working several more hours in the pharmacy than usual,” Mark Burdon said. He was the pharmacist and owner of Whickham Pharmacy in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The pharmacies have had severe staff shortages due to COVID outbreaks that destroy workplaces.

This discussion over whether high locum tenens rates are to blame for pharmacy closures continues. Contractors have told The Pharmacist that any closures have been brought on by “real staffing challenges” rather than a refusal to pay higher locum tenens costs.

The shortfall affects independent retailers as well. According to a poll by the American Community Pharmacists Association, two-thirds of local pharmacies are also experiencing a labor shortage. Also, they are finding it difficult to fill job vacancies.

Causes of Pharmacist shortage

Pharmacist Shortage 2023

Pharmacists throughout the U.K. say they see an increase in abuse. This issue resulted from the government’s “denial” and “misinformation” about pharmaceutical supply issues. ITV News has received reports of pharmacists who have been harassed or attacked physically by customers.

After being attacked and placed in a headlock by a patient, one “traumatized” pharmacist claimed he felt dangerous at work. Meanwhile, another pharmacy uploaded a video of an incident in which a guy continuously smashes the store’s window.

Moreover, throat capsules, cough syrups, and various pain relievers are still in short supply. This is according to pharmacists who are reporting this situation. 4,000 pharmacies are represented by the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP). This association’s CEO, Dr. Leyla Hannbeck, called the situation for “burned out” pharmacists chaos. She criticizes the Department of Health for failing to plan and downplaying supply issues. 

It has been informed by pharmacies and locum tenens agencies that there is a shortage of community and locum pharmacists. One of the most frequently stated causes was hiring pharmacists in PCNs. This was reported by the Corporate Chemists’ Association (CCA) about the worsening shortage of pharmacists in community pharmacies.

The following additional factors were discovered:

  • COVID outbreaks, 
  • summer annual leaves, 
  • increased pay that allows workers to work fewer days, 
  • pharmacists looking for more varied responsibilities, 
  • patients being relocated from congested medical offices, 
  • poor care, and 
  • a lack of support with growing workloads.

Walgreens and C.V.s pharmacist shortage 2023

Walgreens recently disclosed that it would provide pharmacists with a sign-on incentive of up to $75,000. This announcement surprised a lot of practicing pharmacists. It’s because they had been hearing about decreasing demand and increasing pharmacists. Chain pharmacies other than Walgreens are also looking to hire pharmacists. With sign-on bonuses, CVS is likewise aiming to recruit pharmacists.

Chains that provide sign-on bonuses often do so because it’s tough to find qualified candidates to fill open positions. However, many pharmacists have recently struggled to find employment for various reasons. This includes the rapid expansion of pharmacy schools, the decreased demand caused by increased automation, lower pay, and the growth of mail-order pharmacies. 

Based on a survey, some pharmacists said the lack of retail pharmacists is mostly due to working conditions. A few issues are lacking qualified employees, demanding productivity goals, and stressful labor metrics. A major issue includes expanding practice, which places more duties on the same pharmaceutical team.

As a result, Burnout among pharmacists has reached a “breaking point.” This is according to a statement from the American Pharmacists Association.

Finding alternatives by pharmacists

Dr. Barker stated that despite the salary, “few pharmacists choose to commit themselves to these working conditions, and I’m happy that few pharmacists accept the offer.” The business run by Dr. Barker supports pharmacists in identifying their objectives and choosing a career path that best suits them. Through his employment, he has observed numerous developments in pharmacist careers.

The pharmacists they advise have shifted into the industry (14.8%), entrepreneurship (10.7%), hospitals (10.7%), community pharmacies (8.2%), and medical writing (5.7%). This is according to their most recent success report. According to this study, just 5% of pharmacists left the pharmaceutical industry.

Finally, according to the D.M. they spoke with, the retail pharmacist migration has been helped by expanding the cannabis sector. As of February 2022, the use of medical cannabis is permitted in 37 states, 3 territories, and Washington, D.C. Additionally, it is mandated by law for pharmacists to work in cannabis dispensaries in numerous states, including Connecticut. This generates many new positions for pharmacists wishing to change careers.

Future of pharmacists

In Wales’s first national workforce survey, community pharmacist vacancy rates were reported to be 6% nationwide. According to the same poll conducted in Scotland in 2020, employed pharmacists had a vacancy rate of 12%, whereas locum pharmacists had a rate of 0.18%.

The number of local pharmacists has risen from 23,284 in 2017 to 27,406 in 2021. This is according to Health Education England’s long-awaited workforce report. This was an extension of its 2017 results.

The vacancy rate for pharmacists in England has doubled over the previous four years to 8%. Also, even higher vacancy rates are reported for all other pharmacy team members. This would suggest that there is a greater demand for pharmacists.


Many healthcare workers, including pharmacists, are quitting their jobs due to high levels of Burnout. Even though the issue existed before COVID, the difficulties pharmacists felt during the pandemic’s peak only made matters worse.

To avoid a shortage of community pharmacists, the industry must address the issues contributing to Burnout. Also, the industry must look into issues such as working conditions, staffing, and productivity measures.