Walmart, CVS Announce Changes to Pharmacy Hours Due to Staffing Struggles

Article

The moves come after other efforts to improve staff shortages, including higher wages, lunch breaks, and signing bonuses.

Several major pharmacy chains are reducing their hours as they continue to deal with nationwide pharmacy staff shortages, according to reporting by Axios.1

Walmart pharmacies will begin closing at 7 pm on weekdays, which is 2 hours earlier than the previous closing time of 9 pm. Weekend hours will not change, according to Axios.1

Similarly, the Wall Street Journal has reported that CVS will reduce or change hours at approximately two-thirds of its locations starting in March.2 This follows a change implemented in 2022, closing CVS pharmacies from 1:30 pm until 2 pm every day to allow staff a daily lunch break.1

According to the Wall Street Journal, CVS plans to focus its reduced hours on times when patient demand is low or when a store has only 1 pharmacist on site.2

“By adjusting hours in select stores this spring, we ensure our pharmacy teams are available to serve patients when they’re most needed,” CVS told the Wall Street Journal in a statement.2

Staff shortages have been an ongoing challenge in all health care environments. In pharmacies, shortages have led to higher wages for employees as well as longer wait times for patients, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).3

In a survey by NCPA in August 2022, researchers found that more than three-quarters of community pharmacies were struggling to fill open positions. Importantly, this survey found little improvements between May and November 2021, when roughly 79% and 70% of community pharmacies, respectively, said they were struggling to find workers.3

More than 88% of the respondents in 2022 said that finding pharmacy technicians was the number 1 problem, followed by front-end staff at 56%. Roughly 73% of respondents said they were dealing with the shortages by offering higher wages and benefits, but 54% said it is taking longer to fill patient prescriptions.3

“Community pharmacists take pride in their ability to be able to efficiently take care of the consumer’s health care needs, especially compared to some of the big chains,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, PharmD, MBA, in a press release from August 2022. “Staffing shortages are making those normally short wait times a little longer. You take the labor shortage which was acute [in 2021], and add runaway inflation this year, and you have challenging conditions for local, independent pharmacies.”3

Pharmacies have tried to find some solutions, including signing bonuses, higher wages, lunch breaks, and automation. In October 2022, Walgreens also announced that it was changing its talent management approaches, eliminating task-based metrics for pharmacy staff performance reviews.4 Moving forward, staff will be evaluated based on behaviors that support patient care and experiences, rather than task-based metric systems.4

Despite these efforts, staff shortages are ongoing, with changes such as limited hours intended to help alleviate the strain.

In a statement, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) noted that the impacts of these new hours are still unclear. Shorter hours will affect patients, with slightly more limited opportunities to pick up prescriptions, receive vaccines, and receive other pharmacy services. The statement did note, however, that the workload of pharmacists will remain unchanged, with a shorter amount of time to complete it each day. Therefore, APhA urged pharmacy leaders to address the underlying staffing issues.5

"Some are blaming reduced hours on a pharmacist shortage. It is incorrect to say that there is a shortage of pharmacists or pharmacy technicians," said Ilisa BG Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, interim executive vice president and CEO of APhA, in the press release. "More accurately, there is a shortage of pharmacists and technicians willing to work under the current conditions. Pharmacy is a rewarding profession and pharmacists are experts in medication use. We need to stop conflating and blaming the current conditions on pharmacist or technician shortages, when it's due to short-staffing and health care system faults."5

REFERENCES

  1. Tyko K. Walmart and CVS cutting pharmacy hours. Axios; January 27, 2023. Accessed January 30, 2023. https://www.axios.com/2023/01/27/cvs-pharmacy-hours-walmart-hours-shortage
  2. Terlep S and Nassauer S. CVS, Walmart to Cut Pharmacy Hours as Staffing Squeeze Continues. Wall Street Journal; January 27, 2023. Accessed January 30, 2023. https://www.wsj.com/articles/cvs-walmart-to-cut-pharmacy-hours-as-staffing-squeeze-continues-11674796388
  3. Survey: Three-Quarters of Community Pharmacies Report Staff Shortages. News release. NCPA; August 11, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2023. https://ncpa.org/newsroom/news-releases/2022/08/11/survey-three-quarters-community-pharmacies-report-staff-shortages
  4. Walgreens Sharpens Focus on Patient Care and Experience, Eliminating Task-Based Metrics for Pharmacy Staff Performance Reviews Chainwide. News release. Walgreens; October 26, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2023. https://news.walgreens.com/press-center/news/walgreens-sharpens-focus-on-patient-care-and-experience-eliminating-task-based-metrics-for-pharmacy-staff-performance-reviews-chainwide.htm
  5. American Pharmacists Association on move to cut pharmacy hours. News release. American Pharmacists Association; January 30, 2023. Accessed January 31, 2023. https://www.pharmacist.com/About/Newsroom/american-pharmacists-association-on-move-to-cut-pharmacy-hours
Related Videos
Semaglutide Ozempic injection control blood sugar levels | Image Credit: myskin - stock.adobe.com
Image credit: motortion | stock.adobe.com - Young depressed woman talking to lady psychologist during session, mental health
Image credit:  JPC-PROD | stock.adobe.com - Choosing method of contraception : Birth control pills, an injection syringe, condom, IUD-method, on grey
Semaglutide Ozempic injection control blood sugar levels | Image Credit: myskin - stock.adobe.com
Health care provider examining MRI images of patient with multiple sclerosis -- Image credit: New Africa | stock.adobe.com
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.