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NHS workforce plan must include community pharmacy, sector urges

Pharmacy leaders have called for the upcoming NHS workforce plan to cover the pharmacy sector in full, including community colleagues.

In a joint letter to health minister Will Quince last month (December 21), pharmacy leaders warned the government about a lack of engagement with stakeholders around the development of its long-term workforce plan in England.

The letter called for “reassurance” that the workforce plan, expected by April 2023, will cover the whole pharmacy workforce – including community pharmacy.

It was signed by 14 representatives including from the Company Chemists’ Association, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, the National Pharmacy Association, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), as well as leaders from other parts of the pharmacy sector.

Read more: MPs push government for funded pharmacy workforce plan

The letter, published today (January 10), said: “We welcomed the government’s commitment to publish a long-term workforce plan, however we are concerned by a lack of engagement with pharmacy stakeholders about its development.

“While you noted in a recent written answer that the pharmacy workforce will be ‘considered in the development of the plan’, we would welcome your reassurance that the plan will cover the entirety of the pharmacy workforce across the health service, including in community pharmacy."

It called for the plan to “outline how the existing workforce will be supported to become independent prescribers and the Government’s roadmap for utilising these skills through the commissioning of appropriate services”. 

And it asked that the pharmacy workforce be supported so that “the staff needed to deliver patient care now and into the future can be recruited, trained and retained”.

“We would welcome the opportunity to help shape and inform the workforce plan and would be pleased to discuss this further”, it concluded.

 

"Workforce crisis"

 

PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison today said: “It is crucial that the community pharmacy sector is included in all future NHS workforce strategies. We have been clear that the sector is facing a workforce crisis and that the impacts of this are already severely affecting pharmacies.”

PDA chairman Mark Koziol added: “Our pharmacist members practise across the entire health system and have the potential to do far more to help patients and improve public health, but they can only do so safely if they are in appropriately staffed workplaces.

“This is a workforce issue, so it is important that the government works with representatives of the pharmacist workforce, and of their employers, to get a suitably agreed plan in place.”

 

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

And RPS chair Thorrun Govind said that with pharmacy teams across the NHS “under enormous pressure”, the workforce plan “must also look to the future and how we can make the most of the next generation of pharmacist independent prescribers to enhance patient care”.

In July, the Health and Social Care Committee - led by now-Chancellor Jeremy Hunt - published a report calling for an “integrated and funded” pharmacy workforce plan to be developed and laid before parliament within the next year.

It comes as the health secretary has revealed that a new document on NHS recovery is set to detail government plans for pharmacies to take on “additional services”.

 

Meanwhile, community pharmacy representatives have continued to lobby the government on behalf of the profession, with some attending an emergency NHS recovery meeting with the Prime Minister over the weekend.

 

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