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Latest ARRS pharmacist recruitment figures cause concern


Latest ARRS pharmacist recruitment figures cause concern

The Government says it has met its target of recruiting 26,000 additional primary care professionals – including pharmacists – into GP practices one year early, provoking a strong reaction from pharmacy bodies.

The Company Chemists’ Association estimates that 8,800 pharmacists have been recruited into primary care since March 2019, which is an increase of over 900 pharmacists in the last quarter alone. 

Despite our continued warnings of a workforce crisis in pharmacy, this short-sighted recruitment drive continues at pace. It is clear that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Between December 2022 and March 2023, the number of full-time equivalent pharmacists and advanced pharmacist practitioners employed in primary care increased from 6,313 to 7,063, according to the CCA. The number is likely to be significantly higher when the actual headcount number of pharmacists working in these roles is taken into account, it adds.

NPA chair, Nick Kaye, said his association also won’t be celebrating this milestone because of the drain ARRS has created on the community pharmacy workforce. 

The scheme has the unintended consequence of stripping away patient-facing professionals from community pharmacies, making pharmaceutical care less rather than more accessible overall. The recent Hewitt review into the effectiveness of integrated care systems called this out as an example of silo thinking,” he said.

Recruitment into ARRS roles should not be considered in isolation as a matter for GP practices only, he continued. Workforce plans should take into account the whole of primary care, including community pharmacy.

With that approach, investment in staff across the system could be much more productive and connect all the available resources. Taking the integration mindset a step further, why can’t ARRS roles be considered for the community pharmacy setting too?” Mr Kaye said.

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