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Cross-sector community and GP pharmacist training pilot launched

A pilot pharmacist training programme that allows recruits to rotate across both community pharmacy and general practice has begun recruitment in Norfolk.

The cross-sector training programme aims to “address growing demand” for clinical “patient-facing” roles and “support pharmacist recruitment” across healthcare sectors, local commissioners said this week (February 21).

The programme – known as the STAR (start, training, advantage and rotation) initiative - was designed to create an “interesting portfolio role” for early-career pharmacists wanting to work in primary care, Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System (ICS) said.

Those taking part in the 24 to 30-month rotational training scheme will have access to the Primary Care Pharmacy Education Programme (PCPEP) and independent prescribing training, it added.


“National pilot”


A job advert posted by the ICS said that the initiative is “a new national pilot featuring a portfolio role across two pharmacy sectors and the unique opportunity to work as a newly qualified pharmacist in GP”.

It specified that recruits will be employed by either a primary care network (PCN) or community pharmacy but work across both.

Phase one of the programme, which will start in “summer 2023”, will offer experience across general practice and community pharmacy, it said.

Read more: HEE to fund 3,000 independent prescribing places in 2023/24

However, the ICS “aims to offer portfolio roles in other sectors” such as hospital practice, health and justice and mental health in phase two, it added.
Pharmacists who have registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) in the last three years or who are currently completing their foundation year are invited to apply before the deadline of March 17.
The ICS said it was particularly keen to hear from entry-level pharmacists wanting to develop a “positive and inclusive culture” within pharmacy.


LPC backing


Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) said it was backing the initiative to help ensure the future sustainability of the pharmacy workforce.

The LPC is encouraging its network of community pharmacy teams to “welcome the chance at employing these pharmacists”, deputy chief officer Lauren Seamons said.

This will “not only secure wider variety of skills for future, but also help influence solutions which will enable community pharmacy workforce stability for the future”, she added.

Read more: ‘Short-sighted at best’: PSNC blasts recruitment of 4k PCN pharmacists

“Collaboration and communication between community pharmacy and general practice is key to the future integrated models of working in the NHS”, she said.
Ms Seamons added that the LPC is “pleased to support this opportunity to attract pharmacists at the beginning of their career to work and develop their skills in Norfolk and Waveney”.
“We hope these new roles, along with the package of support will be mutually beneficial to local healthcare systems and the patients they support,” she said.
But it comes as the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) called the “poaching” of community pharmacy staff to work in primary care networks “absurd” and “very damaging”.
Speaking with C+D earlier this month, PSNC CEO Janet Morrison said the push to recruit pharmacists into PCNs was “ill-considered” as it was worsening the workforce problem in community pharmacy and leading to spiralling locum costs.
Meanwhile, Health Education England (HEE) today announced that it will fund pharmacist independent prescribing training for an additional year.

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