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ICB to pilot portfolio careers for new pharmacists in bid to boost workforce

An integrated care board (ICB) is planning to pilot portfolio careers for newly qualified pharmacists, in a bid to fill vacancies across the system – particularly in community pharmacy.

The first cohort of pharmacists is expected to start in March 2023, while a second group will join the pilot in August 2023, Ceinwen Mannall, pharmacy workforce transformation lead for Norfolk and Waveney ICB, told C+D last week (November 18).

A total of 10 pharmacists will be recruited per cohort, she clarified.

The Start Training Advantage Rotational (STAR) pilot will be recruiting applicants “who are currently in foundation [training] and people who have registered within the last three years”, Ms Mannall said.

Read more: Well tempts overseas pharmacists with £8k support package and training offer

Pharmacist vacancies are “significant” across the ICB and Ms Mannall hopes that this pilot will help address some of the recruitment issues experienced by community pharmacies.


Employment settings


In the initial phase of the pilot, pharmacists will spend half of their time in a community pharmacy and the rest in general practice, and they will receive two contracts of employment “with a memorandum of understanding between the two employers”.

As the pilot progresses to phase 2, junior pharmacists will be employable across other sectors, “such as health and justice, hospital, mental health, and possibly the ICB in the future”, Ms Mannall added.

Read more: PSNC funds independent research on vision for community pharmacy

The pilot is “currently recruiting employers” and is at the initial implementation stage.

“The next step will be to go into advert to potential candidates,” she said.


Pharmacist vacancies across the system


Ms Mannall said the purpose of this pilot is “three-pronged”: to boost integration across the system; to address workforce issues; and to pilot putting newly qualified pharmacists in general practice.

She hopes the pilot will solve “some of community pharmacies’ workforce issues, but also doing it in a way that improves integration”.

Under the pilot, pharmacists will split their time between general practice and community pharmacy.

This means that when they are “doing referrals, or other integration type activities”, both will already have a relationship with the other primary care provider as they share the same pharmacist.

Pharmacists have been attracted to work in general practice from other sectors as the latter does not have a “mechanism to grow their own pharmacists”, Ms Mannall explained.

Under the additional roles reimbursement scheme, primary care networks (PCNs) can usually claim funding for ‘clinical’ pharmacists on band 7-8a on the Agenda for Change pay scale.

Read more: ‘Unfair advantage’: PCNs see increase in reimbursable pay for pharmacists

However, PCNs may be able to make a claim for a ‘clinical’ pharmacist without the same level of seniority if they are enrolled in the primary care pharmacy education pathway, Ms Mannall pointed out.

“Our people plan is a grown-your-own approach,” she said, and the STAR pilot is expected to help general practice do just that.

“I’ve got really good buy in from all of our pharmacy leaders across the integrated care system, particularly [from] community pharmacy and local pharmaceutical committee support,” Ms Mannall added. 

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