Urgent need for pharmacists in health facilities

There is a huge shortage of pharmacists in health establishments in Montérégie.

“I am surprised not to have read that there is a dire need for pharmacists. The hospital is open 365 days a year. And there is always a pharmacist on duty, ”explains one of them. “But since the merger of the CISSS of Minister Barrette, we must serve the reception centers in the region, the Barrie-Memorial Hospital, the CHSLDs”, launches the pharmacist who did not want to see her name reported in the media.

However, she insists on mentioning that the CISSSMO recruitment campaign must make it possible to find the next generation. At once.

Immediate needs

For her, the next generation must be ready at the moment. “I understand that we have to fill the next Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital in 2026. But I would like them to say that this is when we need relief. There are urgently needed positions. It goes badly and the more it goes, the more it gets worse ”, judges the lady.

She says that the hospital teams of Suroît and Anna-Laberge are constantly losing players. “In addition to maternity leave which increases the pressure on the teams, we have to work every day with“ convenience ”pharmacists, on contract, to be able to provide basic services. We are out of breath. Our work is unknown to people, but so essential to patients. Unfortunately, we are too often forgotten, ”she insists.

A doctorate and a specialization

Especially since in recent years, things have changed in the profession. To work in a health establishment, you must obtain a doctorate. And ideally a specialization to work in a hospital environment. At the time of her employment, the lady had obtained a baccalaureate and a master’s degree. “The lack was so obvious that I was already hired at the time. It shows that there is a shortage that has gone on for too long. And at the time of the mergers, some preferred not to stay. Things are bad and our teams are in distress. We must move now, ”implores the lady.

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Lack of 18%

According to the results of the last annual survey of the Association of Pharmacists of Health Establishments of Quebec (APES), the region recorded a shortage rate of no less than 18%. The APES calls for rapid action in order to resolve the situation and avoid too serious consequences on the care and services to the population.

At 1is April 2020, 26 full-time equivalent (FTE) pharmacist positions were unfilled out of a total of 142 positions in health establishments in Montérégie. The latter also used the services of convenience pharmacists for 340 days between 1is April 2019 and March 31, 2020.

This is how it is everywhere in Quebec

Across Quebec, one in five institutional pharmacist positions (19%) was unfilled. The 2020 annual survey revealed 286 unfilled FTE positions and 5,503 payday days. Considering the period covered, the data does not allow us to assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which possibly worsened the situation.

“We have reached a point where the shortage is detrimental to the pharmaceutical care coverage offered to hospitalized, outpatient and CHSLD patients. However, in a context of an aging population and an explosion of acute and chronic health problems, a health establishment must be able to count on a sufficient number of pharmacists. As experts in medicines, they must be part of healthcare teams more systematically, in a logic of interdisciplinarity ”, declared the president of the APES, François Paradis.

Serious consequences

In addition to the discovery of important sectors, such as emergencies and CHSLDs, the insufficiency of pharmaceutical care in health establishments has several negative consequences. There is an increased risk of incidents and medication accidents. There is also an increase in the average length of hospitalizations, as well as the risks of adverse effects and interactions.

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It is also a question of returns to the emergency room and readmissions (revolving door syndrome); a decrease in the quality of life of patients; as well as additional costs to the health system.

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