What areas do Pharmacists cover in hospitals?

The majority of Pharmacies I’ve worked in have been lovely, so why do we face such chronic staff shortages?

Of course there are the main reasons for short term issues like holidays, sickness and maternity leaves but overall there aren’t enough trained pharmacy staff to cover an ageing population who are living longer due to excellent healthcare.

For this reason I’m going to tell you a bit about Pharmacy and the areas we operate in to encourage more knowledge in users, patients and staff members alike.


Speciality areas

Inpatient Team : this is where a patient is admitted to hospital so requires a Pharmacist visit and a number of Technicians to take a medicine history on the ward. In some cases patients have come in as an emergency so they have none of their regular medicines with them so these need to be given in addition to any prescribed during their stay.

Outpatient Team : these are patients referred from a GP usually to see a specialist consultant and given an outpatients prescription. There is a dedicated Outpatient Pharmacy team to manage this workload. Additionally other Outpatient Teams cover:

Chemotherapy : Some hospitals have a specialist aseptic unit where chemotherapy drugs are made by pharmacy staff, other hospitals buy these drugs already made and dispense as usual. All pharmacies give out chemotherapy tablet courses in the outpatient setting.

HIV & AIDS : These patients are usually seen in outpatients and most require many drugs to be dispensed to them, for some its three tablets but for others who may have complications other medicine needs to given along with their HIV medication. 

Paediatric Team : is dedicated to children’s prescriptions either inpatients or out, these take more time to calculate as they are usually dispensed with smaller measures and prepared as liquid medicines.

Controlled Drugs : are by law kept in a locked cupboard, its hugely time consuming and all dispensed drugs are recorded in a book that needs to be signed off twice by different staff members. There are many laws around handling, dispensing and checking controlled drugs, this is because every tablet, liquid bottle and patch needs to, due to their nature, be 100% correct.

Clinical Trials : are in place to trial new drugs in a clinical setting. A drug company works in partnership with the hospital and all patients agree to try a medicine. This will be dispensed as either the new medicine, a new dose of the medicine or a placebo.  There are again many rules around dispensing clinical trials to ensure they are regularly and properly monitored.


There are also some hospitals who deliver to care homes and to smaller hospitals that don’t have their own dispensaries.


Perhaps having some insight in to the wide range of areas we cover might help to improve your satisfaction as a patient and realise we do try hard to hit waiting time targets in all of these.

Grace Hayes

CPht Registered

Pharmaceutical Technician


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