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Pharmacist workforce issues drive employment solutions, says NHSE&I boss

Pharmacist workforce shortages have contributed to the creation of “innovative employment models” in primary care, according to an NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) boss. 

“In some areas”, NHSE&I has seen “pockets of shortages of clinical pharmacists”, Will Tate, head of delivery for the primary care workforce, said at the NHS ConfedExpo conference in Liverpool yesterday (June 15).,

“That can make recruitment between organisations a little bit tricky, with the sense that primary care networks (PCNs) are taking staff,” he told delegates during a session on embedding multi-disciplinary teamworking in primary care.

However, that has resulted into some “quite innovative employment models” in some areas, he added.


Read more: PDA fires back after CCA accuses union of 'dismissing' workforce pressures


Rather than “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, he said, adopting “shared posts” or “rotational working” enables the pharmacy workforce to “integrate services more closely”.

It is important that “there is sharing capacity”, with pharmacy teams sharing their “experience and knowledge of what happens in a community pharmacy and what happens in a PCN”.

Last year, pharmacists were added to the government’s shortage occupation list, a decision that was welcomed by some employers and questioned by some locums and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association.


PCN recruitment has “been a bit hurried”


Dr Rupa Joshi, a member of the PCN network board at NHS Confederation – who also spoke at the session – told delegates that her experience of establishing a PCN workforce has “just been a bit hurried”.


Read more: Underappreciated and lonely: the other side of the PCN pharmacist role


PCNs have been allocated a pot of money, which they can use to hire a pharmacist, for instance, where “we think the medicine management is overwhelming”, she said.

“It’s got to the stage where you’re recruiting and you’re recruiting, but are you necessarily recruiting the right people for your population? For the staff that you’ve already got, are you utilising their skills effectively? And more importantly, are you valuing the new staff,” she asked.


Read more: England CPhO: NHS ‘doing all we can’ to address pharmacy workforce pressures


Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) told C+D it will “continue to monitor the recruitment of new staff into PCNs” and the impact this could have on community pharmacy.

But ultimately, the DH has left it to community pharmacy employers to be responsible for the recruitment and retention of their staff.

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