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Pharmacy employers must make jobs more ‘attractive’, says England CPhO

NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) has said that he “fully recognises” the pressures on community pharmacy but that employers must make the job “attractive”.

Speaking at the 2023 Sigma conference today (March 6), England CPhO David Webb said that the sector is at a “significant juncture for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the NHS”.

He acknowledged the “many challenges” - including around workforce - facing pharmacy teams.

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

“I fully recognise the pressures of all descriptions that pharmacy teams and contractors are having to deal with”, he told delegates at the conference taking place this week.

And he said that the “retention and upskilling of the existing workforce of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians” is “massively important to the NHS”.

Read more: Independent prescribing one of new England pharmacy chief’s main priorities

Mr Webb told delegates that NHS England is “working with employers” to “deliver fulfilling roles across all sectors for new and existing registrants, helping to improve recruitment and retention”.

He cited a £15.9 million investment in community pharmacy training and development, as well as the 3,000 new funded independent prescribing (IP) training places, HEE’s funded clinical examination skills training and wider reforms to pharmacy education and training.

“Listen to employees”

However, he said that it is “crucially important” for community pharmacy employers to “listen to employees” and provide “attractive careers”.

“At a time of challenging workforce preferences, [employers must] listen to employees and understand their preferences and as a result offer attractive careers,” he told delegates.

Employers must also “make sure they're training enough pharmacists to meet their own needs, which means providing undergraduate placement and foundation training pharmacist places”, he added.


“Brilliant work” in a “tough landscape” 

Meanwhile, Mr Webb thanked community pharmacy teams for their “amazing contribution to the NHS during exceedingly challenging times”.

“It's a rewarding job but also a difficult job at times in a tough landscape and you're doing brilliant work”, he said.

Read more: Chief pharmaceutical officer chooses Essex pharmacy for COVID-19 and flu jabs

“There is no doubt in my mind that community pharmacy teams are essential in the future of the NHS,” he concluded.

Mr Webb was appointed CPhO for England in January last year, after his predecessor Keith Ridge retired from the role after 16 years in the post.  

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