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Revealed: The average salaries, work-life balance, and job satisfaction of primary care pharmacists

A total of 85 primary care pharmacists – either employed by a GP practice or working for a primary care network (PCN) – have shed light on what a pharmacist’s life looks like outside of community pharmacy branches 

Community pharmacists often think that grass is greener in GP-land, so much so that some pharmacy bodies have repeatedly expressed their concerns about community pharmacists leaving the sector for PCN or GP practice roles.

According to the latest experimental data released by NHS Digital last year, there were 2,626 reported full-time equivalent pharmacists working for PCNs in England as of the end of September.

While some of these roles haven’t existed for very long – PCNs were only set up in July 2019 – some have responded to the C+D Salary Survey 2021 to share their experiences.


Average salaries and views on pay


The average salary of the 43 PCN pharmacists who completed the 2021 survey – which ran from November 26 to December 31 – was £45,312.

Meanwhile, 42 GP practice pharmacists responded to the survey, revealing an average salary of £51,463.

Some PCN pharmacists commented that their pay could be better. One respondent said their salary is “less than the minimum under band 7” on the Agenda for Change pay scale, while another said that pay “could be better to match [band 7 on] the NHS Agenda for Change”.

Another PCN pharmacist said that “it seems very difficult to achieve any [salary] increment in primary care”.


Work-life balance


When asked to rate their work-life balance from 1-10 – one being defined as “my life is dominated by work” and 10 being defined as “I have a healthy balance between life and work” – 80% of PCN pharmacists chose numbers between 6-10, while 78% of GP pharmacists selected numbers in this range.

One PCN pharmacist said that they have seen a “massive reduction in pay” since they moved from the community sector, but this has been matched with improvements to their work-life balance.

Although most GP pharmacists who responded to the survey indicated a good work-life balance, the only comments received by C+D were made by those who lamented a poor lifestyle.

One GP pharmacist said they often feel “a little overwhelmed at work” and have a difficult time switching off – adding that this hasn’t changed when compared to their previous role in community pharmacy.

Another GP pharmacist respondent said: “Work-life balance is not great. Work seems to demand more and give less. There’s very little job satisfaction anymore.”


Relationship with GPs


When asked about their relationships with the GPs they work with, 96% of GP pharmacists chose numbers between 6-10 on a scale from one (“poor”) to 10 (“excellent”).

Several commented that their relationships are “excellent”, “professional”, or that they feel supported. One GP pharmacist wrote: “I love my job and [am] totally respected.”

Meanwhile, 88% of PCN pharmacists rated their relationship with GPs between 6-10.

The majority of those who commented said they were pleased with their relationship with GPs, with some saying that GPs value pharmacists’ input. However, a couple said that “GPs are too busy” to build a relationship with their pharmacist colleagues.

While higher salaries and a better work-life balance might attract pharmacists to PCN and GP roles, some have pointed out that they too face mounting workloads, confirming a widespread capacity issue right across the healthcare sector.


The C+D Salary Survey 2021 ran between November 26 and December 31 and was completed by a total of 1,295 pharmacists and pharmacy staff. 

What do you make of the C+D Salary Survey 2021 results so far? Catch up on the coverage and share your experiences on the C+D Community

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