PDA and CCA trade blows over pharmacist shortage claims
The Company Chemists’ Association and Pharmacists’ Defence Association have exchanged stinging criticisms with one another over the issue of staff shortages in pharmacies.
In a statement on Tuesday March 15, the CCA accused the PDA of ignoring the “very real workforce challenges” community pharmacies are facing and urged it to “stand united” with other sector representatives to address the issue.
The CCA highlighted the struggles of East Anglia contractor Anil Sharma, who reported that the current difficulties he faces in recruiting staff are worse than he has ever experienced, with rural areas affected particularly badly.
The trade body said that to “dismiss” these accounts “is disingenuous and a disservice” to pharmacists.
“We hope that together we can work with commissioners to secure better workforce planning and concerted investment into a sector which so desperately needs it,” it said.
While the CCA claims pharmacies are battling a shortfall of 3,000 pharmacists driven in part by funding cuts and recruitment to general practice and other NHS roles, the PDA has expressed scepticism.
It has argued that the number of registered pharmacists continues to grow each year and that working conditions in some pharmacies are a major factor driving retention issues in the sector.
The PDA issued a statement in response on Wednesday, claiming that the CCA “represents the interests of the shareholder of large corporations” and is more focused on short-term profitability than long-term solutions.
PDA chairman Mark Koziol said: “The PDA is already on record as wanting to support pharmacy businesses to secure more funding, particularly in England, and recognises the genuine pressures on finances.
“We must work together to deal with the causes of these problems. Primarily, we must engage the Government to address the damage that has been done by the reduction in the global sum.
“Importantly, we also need to undertake a no-holds barred radical review of the way that healthcare is delivered.
“Community pharmacy must stop focusing on selling cosmetics and appearing like it is a shop if it is to be taken seriously by patients and politicians alike.
“It must be seen as a health centre in the high street, playing an important role as one of the elements of a re-engineered and fully integrated system involving both primary and secondary care.”
The PDA also wrote to the superintendent pharmacists of each CCA member company this week, warning them that survey data suggests safety issues are on the rise in some of the multiples and urging them to sign the PDA’s Safer Pharmacies charter.