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NHS England funds 240 'clinical' pharmacy roles in care homes

203 pharmacists and technicians have been employed to work in care homes across England so far
203 pharmacists and technicians have been employed to work in care homes across England so far

A total of 240 “clinical” pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will be employed as part of an “army of experts” to tackle over-medication in care homes, NHS England has announced.

NHS England started recruiting in 2018, with 203 pharmacists and technicians employed to work in care homes across England so far, it told C+D last Friday (May 10).

The employment of pharmacists in care homes is part of a £20 million plan to improve older people’s health and reduce unnecessary medication, as outlined in the NHS long-term plan earlier this year, NHS England said.

The scheme has been trialled in 14 areas of the country with integrated care systems, the commissioning body added.

Bespoke training

Pharmacists must undertake an 18-month “bespoke training pathway” and an independent prescriber qualification to qualify for the role, NHS England confirmed to C+D.

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said it was funding “expert pharmacy teams” because “too many patients are prescribed medicines they may no longer need or may need adjusting”.

“Increasing the availability of specialist health advice in care homes will mean residents get more personalised treatment, [a] reduced chance of being admitted to hospital and people will have a better quality of life for longer,” he added.

Care home residents take an average of seven medicines a day – with many taking more than 10 – which costs the NHS an estimated £250m each year, NHS England said.

RPS “delighted”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said it is “delighted” the programme to recruit pharmacists into care homes “has been successful and will continue”.

The society’s English board chair Sandra Gidley said: “Including pharmacy professionals in the care home workforce has been proven to cut medication errors, reduce polypharmacy and make savings for the NHS, benefitting patient care and safety.

“We look forward to seeing the programme expand even further and to helping colleagues, residents and their families and carers,” she added.

Are you now working as a pharmacist or technician in a care home setting? Contact C+D at [email protected] to let us know how you are finding it.

Would you consider becoming a 'clinical' pharmacist in a care home?

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

If Care homes need advice - they can pay for it out of profits or running costs...It's a service cost and if you want a Professional for it ...Good luck to those who venture down this path....Hope it's not a 'flash in the pan' for those who do go for it as they are frustrated in whatever their current role is....I sincerely hope that they aren't offered short term contracts with each 'review' being a carrot and stick style management approach to keep them on their toes....Time will tell...

Delphine Abbott, Student

I just wanted to raise awareness of the 18-month funded training pathway and signpost to more information. 

The 18-month training pathway is funded by NHS England and Health Education England and is delivered by the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE). It's open to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who are either: 1) already working in a care home setting two days a week minimum, or 2) working in a health and justice setting two days a week minimum, or  3) recruited into a care home as part of NHS England’s Medicines Optimisation in Care Homes Programme.

Pharmacists who take part in the training pathway will also be expected to complete independent prescribing (IP) training.   

You'll find more detailed information on the Health Education England website - including eligibility criteria, how to apply, what you're committing to, and more. Click on the Factsheets/Learn More tab, at the bottom of this page: (scroll down the page to find the Factsheets tab; then look for the Medicines Optimisation in Care Homes training factsheet).

More information about the training is also on the CPPE website:

CPPE are now approaching their last cohort, which starts on 2nd September 2019, so now's a good time to look into the offer.




Julie Friday, Accuracy checking technician

I would love to pursue my career as a pharmacy technician in a care home or GP practice.

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said it was funding “expert pharmacy teams”!!

This is clearly an implication that the CP teams are not "experts" . A beginning of division within the profession, justifiably, because for the past 20 years all the CP's have been doing is maniputaing the pharmacy contract by chasing and building volumes,creating dispensing sweat shops, instead of attempting to evolve clinical services!!.

It is a ripe time to dis-incetivise volume chasing, and plough more funding into clinical services, and other services assisting with compliance and medicine use optimisation.


Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

If the Care homes are Private businesses - get THEM TO FUND THE TRAINING and PAY FOR THE VISITS out of their profits or running costs ...can't afford it ? Nationalise them as they've been ripping elderly off for years - houses/possessions etc sold off to pay exhorbitant fees to line pockets of greedy owners whilst the government passes the buck regarding Elderly care  ...As for Pharmacy (represented by the renowned We'll Do It For Nothing Brigade )volume chasing was necessary to survive under the old contract and pretty much still essential with the current contract....I can remember when the Health Boards paid community pharmacies to visit and advise Care homes Annually...We had 17 of those 'very demanding' customers...'We want this, that and the other at zero notice and be on call as well over the weekend...Oh and free faxes/fridges /trolleys etc or we'll go elsewhere' - as they would 'blackmail' us with back then.When we claimed for the advisory visits (Care homes never paid for the service/advice  ???) we were paid for 10 only...The HB's answer ...'We didn't expect you to do that many so we've capped your fees'...Hence the demise of the 'advisory service' as community pharmacies were betrayed and replied with fee service.Hence, the birth of a  'new' 'division' which is good  as long as the funding is new or comes from the Care home sector who will use the service...The cost of training/visits etc SHOULD NOT COME FROM NHS PHARMACY BUDGETS.Funding for the 'new' division should not detract from those wishing to provide dispensing services which are underfunded as it is...Pharmacy dispensing fee in England 126p,Wales 90p ...very little change in 3 decades.....Criminal underpayment compared to elsewhere in the world...Dispensing Doctor fee £2.25 ...Funny old world eh ?

Would I consider becoming a pharmacist in a care home? Yes because it would give me new skills that are transferrable going forward. 

Congratulations to all those pharmacists and techs who have signed up for this work. With so much prescribing linked to care home patients having a dedicated team to review them and put systems in place in care homes is money well spent.

This gives a potential sound and secure future to 180 full time equivalent pharmacists in this new role as large multiples in particular move to cut branch numbers and introduce central automation.

If we think that the last few years have been a whirlwind you ain't seen nothing yet.

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