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On-call pharmacy services: a perspective from the Royal Alexandra Hospital (NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde) and comparison with NHS Tayside, Scotland
  1. Andrew David MacFarlane1,
  2. Andrew Carruthers1,
  3. John Dunn2
  1. 1 Pharmacy, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley, UK
  2. 2 Pharmacy, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr Andrew David MacFarlane, Pharmacy, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley PA1 3BG, UK; amacfarlane392{at}


Objective To quantify the number and types of calls received by on-call pharmacists at the Royal Alexandra Hospital from January 2016 to February 2018.

Method A retrospective analysis of the on-call log in an Excel spreadsheet was conducted. Excel was used to analyse the data recorded by on-call pharmacists during the out-of-hours period.

Results A total of 871 calls were made over 26 months, averaging 33.5 calls per month or 1.1 calls per day. The busiest day of the week was Saturday (21.7%, 189/871) with the weekend accounting for 38.3% (334/871) of calls. Between 17:00 and 18:00, 26.5% (225/850) of calls occurred, with 48.2% (410/850) of calls starting between 17:00 and 20:00. The largest users of the service were nurses (51.0%, 374/734). The most common calls were medicine supply (36.5%, 314/860) and ‘Finishing the days work’ (18.3%, 157/860). The majority of calls were resolved within 30 min (59.8%, 502/840). The average length of a call was 37.5 min, with the most junior pharmacists resolving calls quicker than the most senior with averages of 28.1 min and 32.7 min, respectively. There were 109 occasions where compensatory rest was triggered, accounting for the equivalent of 63.1 working days of rest being taken by on-call pharmacists with an approximate cost of £14 617 over 26 months.

Conclusions The supply of medication was the primary use of the on-call pharmacy service, with increased demand immediately following department closure. With approximately 30 working days of compensatory rest per year being accrued as part of on-call work at one hospital, this is an area of on-call that needs to be further understood. Extending the hours of hospital pharmacy service may bring long-term savings in avoiding both paying a premium for an on-call pharmacist or losing them to compensatory rest the following day.

  • on-call pharmacy
  • compensatory rest
  • NHS Scotland
  • organisation of health services
  • time management
  • out of hours

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