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Lloydspharmacy superintendent: Roles in community not currently pharmacists' first choice

Community pharmacy “doesn’t seem to be the career of choice at the minute” for pharmacists, Lloydspharmacy superintendent pharmacist Victoria Steele has told C+D in an exclusive interview.

Community pharmacy needs to be looked at as “a real career of choice – absolutely like it was for me, and it was absolutely the right choice”, Ms Steele told C+D during the latest episode of podcast series A Coffee With…, published today (March 1).


Read more: Why did the Home Office add pharmacists to the shortage occupation list?


“For a number of reasons, community pharmacy doesn’t seem to be the career of choice at the minute for pharmacists,” she said.

While pharmacists have “lots of [career] options, which is great”, community pharmacy has seen many “going off to primary care network roles, health boards, etc”, she added.



“Easier route to portfolio careers” needed


Workforce issues are a challenge that Lloydspharmacy is facing at present, she acknowledged, adding that it is a “worry for a number of reasons”.

“We’ve got tired colleagues that just keep going,” she said. “For the last two years, we’ve had a significant focus on COVID-19 vaccinations. You don’t get to vaccinate millions of people without a significant workforce behind it.”


Read more: The Big Debate - is there a shortage of community pharmacists?


Whether or not there is a shortage of community pharmacists has been a topic of debate in the sector recently, with some arguing that community pharmacy is losing pharmacists to other parts of the sector and others suggesting that poor pay and working conditions are forcing pharmacists to seek employment elsewhere.

While discussions around tackling community pharmacy’s workforce issues are ongoing, “I don’t think they’re moving forward quick enough”, Ms Steele said.

One way to “significantly” tackle the issue would be to create “a much easier route to portfolio careers and working across organisations”, she added.

Although this “brings all sorts of employment issues with it”, she told C+D, “I believe that you need significant community pharmacy experience to go off into other roles”.

Currently, “lots of people are [transferring to those roles] with no community pharmacy experience”, she said.

Last month, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) – of which Lloydspharmacy is a member – claimed there was a shortfall of 3,000 community pharmacists in England over a five-year period due to a “tug of war” between different parts of the healthcare sector.

Last year, pharmacists were added to the government’s shortage occupation list.


Listen to Episode 2 of the A Coffee With… podcast here.


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