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‘Further upskilling’ of community pharmacists pledged in NHS plan

NHS England has pledged to “further upskill” community pharmacists to build on their minor ailments expertise, in its workforce plan.

NHS England’s interim people plan – published yesterday (June 3) – outlines how the commissioning body will invest in its workforce over the next year, to help realise its long-term plan for the health service.

It has pledged to invest in the “further upskilling of community pharmacists to provide alternatives for patients who do not need to be seen in general practice or secondary care, building on the prevention and minor ailments services they already provide”, NHS England said.

In a separate briefing document published alongside the people plan, NHS England said community pharmacy teams will be given “greater freedom to deliver more clinical care”, while pharmacy technicians are encouraged to “practise to the top of their licence” and “new technologies transform medicines dispensing and supply processes”.

Foundation programme

As part of its pledge to ensure pharmacists are able to work across different healthcare settings, NHS England will develop a new foundation training programme for all newly qualified pharmacists and will work with the General Pharmaceutical Council to reform undergraduate and pre-registration training.

NHS England’s aim is to develop this new foundation training programme by March 2020.

“Clinical” pharmacists

“Clinical” pharmacists will continue to be deployed across GP surgeries and care homes, with “clinical” pharmacist prescribers becoming “a central part” of multi-professional teams across primary care networks – groups of local GP practices covering an average of 50,000 people, NHS England explained.

Clinical pharmacy technicians will also support this new part of the primary care workforce,” it added.

RPS calls for funded training

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director of education Gail Fleming said a “funded model of foundation training and professional development” is “central” to supporting pharmacists in enhancing their skills throughout their careers.

“It’s vital that workforce pressures affecting pharmacists are addressed,” she added.

“Systems must be in place to support pharmacists, whatever sector they work in, and improve their working conditions as part of the drive to create better work-life balance and reduce stress levels.”

In January, RPS English pharmacy board chair Sandra Gidley handed a briefing document – compiled by C+D from the past five years of Salary Survey data – to England's chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge, to persuade him of rising pharmacist stress.

Is the interim NHS people plan a step in the right direction?

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