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Pharmacy staff decide to stay amid hospital queue chaos

Pharmacy staff decide to stay amid hospital queue chaos

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Pharmacy staff decide to stay amid hospital queue chaos

Tuesday 16 April 2024


Short-term moves to improve the "thoroughly unacceptable" queues at the hospital pharmacy have achieved some success in cutting waiting times, according to the Health Minister – with some staff having reversed their decisions to leave.

The pharmacy at the General Hospital has been in the spotlight recently with many islanders taking to social media to highlight queues of up to two hours and other negative experiences.

Four jobs are currently being advertised for the service on Gov.je at both technician and manager level amid speculation over cultural issues within the department.

During question time in the States Assembly this morning, Deputy Tom Binet said that staffing levels, additional investment and changes to processes were all being considered as ways of improving the service.

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Pictured: Four HCS pharmacy jobs are currently being advertised on gov.je.

Responding to a question from Deputy Montfort Tadier, Deputy Binet said that the number of prescriptions being dealt with by the pharmacy, and staffing problems, has led to a situation that was "thoroughly unacceptable".

Short-term moves to improve the situation had already achieved some success in cutting waiting times, he added, with some staff having reversed their decisions to leave.

Discussions were also taking place with the Social Security Minister and her officials, Deputy Binet said, in a bid to provide other options to those who currently have to queue for prescriptions not available at any other pharmacy. 

"We are working very closely with Social Security, but the matter is more complicated than it appears on the surface," he said.

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Pictured: Health Minister Tom Binet said that pharmacy staffing levels, additional investment and changes to processes were all being considered.

The introduction of 'shared prescribing' has long been touted as a solution to the ongoing Hospital Pharmacy woes. 

This could enable GPs to prescribe controlled drugs, freeing up Hospital clinicians, and allow patients to collect some medication from community pharmacies instead.

The Health Department recently confirmed that "the prescribing process remains under active review” – but the introduction of shared prescribing is likely to require Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and later Social Security Minister approval to add certain medications to the 'whitelist' on the Health Insurance Fund.

It would also require development of shared care guidelines, as well as GP agreement and funding.

Deputy Lucy Stephenson, one of those who had previously described the long waits, asked the Health Minister if he was aware of cultural concerns among pharmacy staff, including low morale and bullying.

Deputy Binet said: "I'm aware of some issues – these are employment matters, so it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment, but every issue is being dealt with."

Potential moves that were being considered, he added, included the possibility of re-introducing weekend opening, and enabling prescriptions to be dispensed from the new Enid Quenault facility at Les Quennevais in St Brelade – although the latter would require a change to the law.

Asked to give a timeline for the moves to improve the situation, Deputy Binet said he couldn't.

"It will take as long as it takes," he added.

Deputy Louise Doublet highlighted the difficulties faced by around 250 islanders who needed to attend the pharmacy monthly in order to obtain medication to help treat ADHD.

Deputy Binet said: "I am very aware of the issues surrounding ADHD and it's being treated as a priority, but there is only so much you can do at any given point."

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FOCUS: Staff abuse, tears and a strained service… Spotlight on hospital queue chaos

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