Locums deserve respect


Normally on a Saturday, I work in my own pharmacy. It gives me a chance to have a catch up as it’s generally quieter. This week, I was asked by the locum co-ordinator to work in a different branch. I had not worked at this branch for a couple of years, so I thought it would be nice to work there. Big mistake!!!

I should have known that it would be a bad day when I could not get my car out due to a brother/neighbour car sandwich.  I had to wake up my brother to move his car.
Then I thought that I would be late. Thankfully the roads were quiet.

The morning started well and the two staff seemed pleasant.  We did not do many items but it was all the problems in between that slowed everything down.  Firstly, patients came back for items that were in the mornings AAH order.  I looked through 12 AAH boxes to try to find a tub of Doublebase cream and then found it in the Alliance order!

Patient A brought in a prescription for Algesal cream and they were calling back. We did not have it in stock so I put it to one side for when Patient A came back.

Patient B came in for an owing from yesterday for Oestrogel. Unfortunately, it had not been ordered. Luckily, she was happy to wait until Monday.

The next prescription for Patient C made me chuckle:

They like peppermint but not for everything! A verbal instruction was not sufficient apparently.

Patient D collected a prescription but it was the wrong flavour of Paracetamol 6+ suspension. He does not like orange?!?!  So I had to change all 1200ml. In the middle
of this Patient E rang to speak to the pharmacist and I said that I would ring them back. Only had 600ml so I gave an owing note. There was also another prescription for Gabapentin that should have been here. I looked on the computer and said that the last one was done a week ago. She said that she had only ordered it a few days ago and we should have collected it. She would ring the surgery on Monday morning.

The waiting time had increased to 10 minutes and one patient walked out in disgust?!?!

I rang Patient E back and there was no answer!

Patient F came in for an emergency supply of her dad’s Dihydrocodeine tablets as he had forgotten to order them. I referred her to the emergency doctors who would be able to fax me a prescription.

Patient E rang back and had been prescribed some Zufal  [Branded generic Alfusozin] tablets. We could not get hold of them and he was not happy. He was going on holiday on
Wednesday. He kindly gave me the address of AAH pharmaceuticals in Leeds for me
to try on Monday [thanks!]. I explained that I would leave a note for the next pharmacist on Monday and that we would definitely ring him back on Monday. He would begrudgingly accept a different generic if we could not get Zufal [Script would need to be changed though].

Patient A came back. The prescription had disappeared?!?!? It was not where I had left it. We all searched everywhere for it. EVERYWHERE. It had vanished.

20 min wait for prescriptions……

I had to profusely apologise and say that we would ring the surgery on Monday to get another prescription. As soon as we get a replacement [hopefully!] the bleeding thing will probably turn up!

Patient F came back for the Dihydrocodeine fax. It had not arrived yet….

Patient G rang up and said that he was waiting for his Clopidogrel. It was due to be delivered on Mondays. I said that I would bring it on my way home at 1pm. He was 94 years old so I felt generous!

Patient H said that there was no Ramipril tablets on her Mum’s prescription from yesterday and wanted an emergency supply. I looked on the computer and which said that it had been labelled. I found out the prescription and it was on there. I asked her to confirm with her mum that she had definitely not had them. Not a lot I could apart from redispensing it.

Patient F came back again. Still no fax. She rang the emergency doctors again. They had got our fax number wrong!

Patient I needed an emergency supply of Amlodipine….

The Dihydrocodeine fax came. I was hoping that Patient F and Patient I did not talk to each other. I did not want to have to explain why one could have an emergency  supply and one could not.

The dispenser mentioned that the pharmacist who had worked two days ago had ended up ripping up a patient’s prescription after he had become abusive. I was too busy to ask questions about it!

I found the Gabapentin prescription that the Patient D had mentioned. It was a week old and had not been dispensed. Oh well!

These issues will be familiar to anyone that works in pharmacy. It is especially difficult for a locum as they have to hope that there are no unresolved issues from the previous day and that the right medicines have been ordered. They also have to hope that any notes that they leave get followed up.

Locums sometimes get a bad press [from me!]. I for one could not do it full-time. I like to know everything that is happening in my pharmacy. I have a newfound respect for locums.

I was driving home after the home delivery and my all-time favourite song ‘Wonderwall’ came on the Radio. It cheered me up. Then I got a phone call from my branch asking if I could pop in and sort out a couple of problems! AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!

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6 thoughts on “Locums deserve respect

  1. Probably most of us have locumed at some time in our career, and such a day will be familiar to many! Well done for surviving the day – for me, I only manage because we close at 6.30 and so I can listen to comedy on radio 4 as I drive home.

  2. Ah yes the joys of locumming. It used to be nice though when you arrived and the staff breathed a sigh of relief!! I think relief pharmacists get more grief then locums though my past experience. There was a bigger expectation on the fact I worked for the company therefore should know what I was doing!! Locums can play dumb then slowly fill the cracks of the day and be the glue to keep it all running smoothly.

  3. Working on the IT side in the pharmaceutical industry, I find your blog amusing and enlightening. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  4. Ive had worse days than that as a locum…ever had the ’emergency dosette’ trays that need to be checked and ready for the delivery driver in 10mins!!! Then u get the constant reminder from the dispenser that ‘it needs to go out ASAP’! And when u come to check it against the ‘FAXED’ prescription..you then find that its wrong due to med changes as the dispenser had done it in advance from a previous prescription…and when you say to them its incorrect…they expect you to fix it while the driver stands next to you! Then to add salt to the wound a week later your agency call you and say staff made a complaint about you from that branch, that your slow! Oh my days, im glad i only locum 1 day a week!!!

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