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More than 2,000 full-time equivalent pharmacists work in PCNs, data shows

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) pharmacists working for a primary care network (PCN) in England stood at 2,275 by the end of June, according to experimental data from NHS Digital.

NHS Digital released its latest PCN workforce data today (August 19), which also shows that as of June 30, the reported number of FTE pharmacy technicians working for PCNs was 489.

There are 18% more reported FTE PCN pharmacists compared with the reported 1,929 total as of March 2021. However, NHS Digital cautioned against comparing the figures because “a greater proportion of active PCNs” are now sharing their workforce data.

This means that staff who were already “in post in previous quarters are being recorded for the first time in the most recent quarter”, NHS Digital explained.

As of June 30, there were 1,254 PCNs, of which 73% were recording “staff or contracted services data”. In comparison, only 15% of active PCNs shared their workforce data as of March 2020 – when NHS Digital began recording PCN workforce data.


410 PCNs did not employ or did not record data for FTE pharmacist


According to the data, 410 PCNs had either not employed or had not recorded employing an FTE PCN pharmacist by the end of June.  

Meanwhile, 359 PCNs said they had employed at least one FTE pharmacy technician by this time.

The majority of staff employed by PCNs are funded through the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS). Last year, the scheme was broadened to include pharmacy technicians hired by PCNs, for whom they can claim a maximum annual reimbursement rate of £35,389.

“The PCN contract is a directed enhanced service and aims to increase the primary care workforce by 26,000 by 2024,” according to NHS Digital.


Regions with the highest number of reported PCN pharmacy workers


The Midlands was the region with the highest number of reported FTE pharmacists, at 567, and also had 114 pharmacy technicians.

It was followed by London, with 391 FTE pharmacists – although PCNs in this region only reported employing 22 FTE pharmacy technicians.

Conversely, the South West had the lowest number of recorded FTE pharmacists at 162.

Earlier this month, C+D revealed that a total of 3,068 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians had enrolled in the course required to start work in a PCN between September 2019 and May 2021.

Of these, 54.6% self-reported coming from a role in community pharmacy.

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