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CCA claims sector is battling 'shortfall' of 3,000 pharmacists


CCA claims sector is battling 'shortfall' of 3,000 pharmacists

A “shortfall” of 3,000 community pharmacists has developed in England in the last five years, the Company Chemists’ Association has claimed.

Drawing on data from Health Education England’s 2021 workforce survey as well as the GPhC register, the CCA has concluded that although the total number of community pharmacists has risen in recent years, NHS recruitment and changing working patterns are contributing to a workforce crisis. 

The association claims that increased portfolio working and primary care network recruitment mean that between March 2017 and December 2021 an additional 6,484 community pharmacists were needed in England, and that the estimated growth in GPhC registered community pharmacists of 3,481 points to a “shortfall” of just over 3,000 pharmacists.

The HEE survey indicates that the rate of pharmacist vacancies has doubled since 2017, which along with rising hourly locum rates suggests that “demand is exceeding supply,” said the CCA.

It claims that factors such as the estimated recruitment of “around 2,400 community pharmacists” into primary care networks in recent years, an increase in pharmacists choosing to work part time – “in some cases because of exhaustion” – and difficulties recruiting support staff have all exacerbated the problem.

“This has added significant pressure on pharmacists who choose to stay in community pharmacies,” it said, warning that NHS ambitions to deliver more clinical services through pharmacies may be unrealistic if workforce issues are not addressed.

“The shortfall of pharmacists within teams is also one of the reasons behind temporary closures,” the CCA added.  

CCA chief Malcolm Harrison said: “Plans for community pharmacy to do more in primary care are a mere pipe dream unless the Government faces facts.

“We need the Government to recognise the pressures that pharmacies are under and devise a workforce plan that is led by evidence. The current whack-a-mole approach is short-sighted and unhelpful.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “While the number of pharmacists on the register increases every year, we continue to monitor the impact of the recruitment of pharmacists into primary care networks and are working closely with the sector.”

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