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BMA: GP cash to train pharmacists 'wastes money' if staffing crisis ignored

The top GP at the doctor’s union has said that recent changes to trainee pharmacist funding “will continue to fail” if there are not enough staff behind them.

Chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) GP committee Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer has criticised the news that primary care networks (PCNs) and GP practices will be eligible for trainee pharmacist funding from 2025/26.

“These incentives will continue to fail and waste money, unless we grasp the nettle and address the workforce crisis”, she told C+D earlier this month (January 19).

This month (January 9), the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and NHS England (NHSE) reclassified surgeries and PCNs as “patient-facing”, meaning that from 2025, practices and PCNs can “be the employer of (a) foundation trainee pharmacist”.

But Dr Bramall-Stainer said that the “initiative will hinge on whether there are enough staff to implement it”.

She added that what is needed are “tried and tested mechanisms for pharmacy and GP teams to link up in supporting care across the system, not risking duplication of administration”.

  

“Workforce crisis”

 

The BMA boss stressed that “pharmacists and their teams support many GP practices against the backdrop of huge workload and workforce pressures across primary care”.

“Particularly community pharmacy is also facing a significant workforce crisis”, she said. 

She added that “patients recognise this and simply want the government to direct funding to recruit and keep much needed local GPs and pharmacists”.

She said that that the doctor’s union is “on hand with workforce solutions, should the government choose to engage with us”.

  

“To the advantage of community pharmacy"

  

Meanwhile, the news has been widely welcomed by the pharmacy sector. 

Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA) president and pharmacist Dr Graham Stretch told C+D at the time that “it is to the advantage of community [pharmacy] to work jointly with [GP practices and PCNs] to deliver the DPP prescribing training required from 2025”.

The update will allow the pharmacy sector to “share or entirely bear the cost of employment for the first time [and] joint training will facilitate IP training and crucially offer a rich experience for our trainees,” Dr Stretch said.

Independent contractor Olivier Picard told C+D that the news may decrease the reluctance pharmacies often face “from local practices to take on their employees” because of the “cost for the practice to support the pharmacist”.

However, some sector leaders raised concerns about the distribution of designated prescribing practitioners (DPPs) who are needed to host a trainee.

NPA policy manager Helga Mangion stressed that “the current scarcity of DPPs is a rate limiting factor” as “the pool of current IPs who could undertake this crucial supervisory role in community pharmacies is very shallow”.

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