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PSNC CEO: Government must stop recruiting ‘clinical’ pharmacists into PCNs

The government must “realise” that it needs to stop recruiting ‘clinical’ pharmacists into primary care networks (PCNs) and GP practices, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) CEO Janet Morrison has said.

The financially incentivised recruitment of pharmacists into these roles is “absolutely shooting community pharmacy in the foot”, Ms Morrison told delegates at a Sigma conference in Heathrow yesterday (October 2).

GP practices should be working with community pharmacies, rather than “recruiting their staff away from them”, Ms Morrison added.

Read more: DH ‘monitoring’ impact of PCN pharmacist recruitment on community pharmacy

According to the most recent PCN workforce figures, there were 3,284 full-time equivalent (FTE) pharmacists working for PCNs as of June.

C+D has approached the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) for comment.

 

Redirect funding away from practices

 

‘Clinical’ pharmacists’ employment costs and salary are fully reimbursed to PCNs under the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS).

In a recent letter to PCNs, NHS England confirmed that the ARRS maximum reimbursement rates for 2022/23 would increase to account for the Agenda for Change uplift.

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

But the government should think about “the redirection of some of the pots of money that support that transfer”, Ms Morrison argued.

Pharmacies must have access to the same types of business relief available to practices and PCNs, Mr Morrisons added.

She continued: “We need to make sure that there’s more acknowledgement and action taken on workforce pressure.” PSNC has already started engaging with the new ministers in the DH, she revealed.

 

A solution to GP access issues

 

Ministers are currently focused on addressing the issue of GP access, Ms Morrison said – which follows health secretary Thérèse Coffey’s commitment to ensure patients can get an appointment at a GP practice within two weeks.

Read more: LPCs 'not surprised' by GPs’ plans to exit PCNs amid primary care challenges

But PSNC is putting pressure on the government to acknowledge that community pharmacy is “facing an existential crisis, we are decimated, and our capacity is really limited”, Ms Morrison said.

“However, if you give us the right kinds of funding and the right kinds of capacity, then we can actually be a solution to GP access and give you what you need in terms of reassuring the public that they have somewhere to go, and that they won’t be spending their lives in long queues,” she told delegates.

In March, the DH told C+D that while the number of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians on the General Pharmaceutical Council’s register “has been increasing every year”, it was “monitoring” the recruitment of new staff into PCNs.

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

 

Catch up with C+D’s sixth Big Debate, which asked: Is there a shortage of community pharmacists?

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