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Exploring the experiences and opinions of hospital pharmacists working 24/7 shifts
  1. Penny J Lewis1,2,
  2. Abbey Forster1,
  3. Matthew Magowan1,
  4. Debra Armstrong2
  1. 1 Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2 Pharmacy Department, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Penny J Lewis, Division of Pharmacy, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK; penny.lewis{at}


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 Semistructured 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’ on-site 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.

  • clinical pharmacy services
  • patient safety
  • clinical pharmacy
  • organisation of health services
  • medical errors
  • pharmacy management (personnel)

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