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Pharmacists opt out of on-call, night duties

The number of pharmacists in Athens willing to keep their stores open for on-call and nighttime duties is dwindling fast due to financial concerns, according to figures seen by Kathimerini, but there has been a rise in pharmacies that have ditched traditional opening hours to serve customers for longer.

Since July 2013, around 200 of the 970 pharmacies operating within the borders of the City of Athens, which covers the wider downtown areas, have been taken off the list of those that are able to take part in a rotation program in which they open during nights or days when the remaining stores are closed. The Attica Pharmacists Association (FSA) said that applications to be taken off the rotation list are flooding in.

There are some 3,500 pharmacies in the whole of Attica and it is estimated that 10 percent have informed their union that they are unable to stay open beyond normal hours. Currently, about 70 pharmacies in the City of Athens and 200 in Attica open for extra hours.

To be taken of the list, pharmacists must cite health or financial reasons. Nine in 10 of the requests since July have been due to the latter. It is estimated that the pharmacies which have asked to be excluded were losing between 100 and 500 euros each time they opened for on-call or night shifts.

Pharmacists say this is because many of their customers are getting their medicines and other products from pharmacies that have opted out completely from the timetable set by FSA, which sees stores open between 8.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and 5.30 and 8.30 p.m. on weekdays plus 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. on Saturdays. However, afternoon openings on Mondays and Wednesdays are optional, as are Saturdays. Since 2011, pharmacists have been permitted to open for longer hours if they so wish.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday May 15, 2014 (20:41)  
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