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Government comes out against pharmacy workforce plan


Government comes out against pharmacy workforce plan

The Government has come out against a workforce plan for pharmacy but does want to better utilise the pharmacy workforce as a whole, it says.

Responding to the Health and Social Care Committee's report on 'Workforce: recruitment, training and retention in health and social care', the Government states: "We do not agree with [the] recommendation for a specific pharmacy workforce plan.

“However, we are working across the system to ensure that the future role of the pharmacy workforce is considered as part of the Long-Term Workforce Plan, to be published later this year. We do agree with the ambition to better utilise the pharmacy workforce.”

The Government adds that it is committed to supporting community pharmacy professionals’ career development.

“We are working on pathways for pharmacists to demonstrate post-registration capabilities, including advanced and consultant level practice. This will enable pharmacists to undertake a HEE approved advanced clinical practice course or demonstrate equivalence through a supported portfolio route.

“This will develop pharmacists with knowledge and skills across all four pillars of practice: clinical, education, leadership and research, and lead improvements in patient pathways through better use of skill mix in primary care.”

The Government notes in its response that since September 2022, pharmacy has been added to the list of professions eligible for the clinical tariff giving access to funded clinical placements during initial education and training.

NHSE is also investing up to £15.9 million to support the education and training of frontline pharmacy professionals in primary care over the next four years. This includes 3,000 funded places for independent prescribing to upskill the existing pharmacist workforce, complementing new registrations who will have this qualification from 2026.

In addition, Health Education England recently announced new, fully funded, NHS clinical examination skills training for community pharmacists. Around 10,000 module places will be available until March 2024.

The Government says NHSE is also developing guidance to support the introduction of shared workforce models between PCN and other pharmacist employers, mitigating short-term local supply issues and aiding longer-term retention.

Furthermore, NHSE is establishing a pilot to incorporate independent prescribing for patients in primary care, to identify the optimum process, governance, safe practice, funding and IT required to enable independent prescribing in community pharmacy.

This pilot will also inform the professional development needs of community pharmacy and wider workforce strategy for pharmacy professionals, the Government adds. It will start later this year.

Response from sector

Welcoming the Government's response, Thorrun Govind, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, said: "Pharmacy teams across the health service are under enormous pressure and if we want to recruit and retain the staff we need, it is vital they get the support they deserve.

“As well as investment for education and training, we know that pharmacy teams are looking for protected time to support their learning and development. They also need continued access to well-being services and with potential cuts to funding, it remains to be seen how national programmes will work alongside integrated care systems to support their workforce.

“The Government’s response is welcome, but we must see this translate into action for the whole of pharmacy as part of the NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan,” she emphasised.

The Society gave advice to the committee’s inquiry last year.

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