Contractors from “around 5,000” independent pharmacies across England will be invited by email to complete a questionnaire on the training, recruitment and working patterns of community pharmacists by September 31, HEE said on Wednesday (August 2).
The aim of the survey is to help HEE “understand the scale and skill set of the community pharmacy workforce”, said Professor Elizabeth Hughes, HEE director and dean of education and quality for London and the south east.
HEE said that once it has received the survey results, it will work with NHS England “to identify potential shortfalls and potentially map community pharmacy availability against populations which have identified lower healthcare outcomes”.
Asda, Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Morrisons, Rowlands, Superdrug, Tesco and Well have already completed the survey through the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), HEE confirmed. Both sets of data will inform HEE's and NHS England's "significant programme of education and development" for the sector (see more below).
£15m worth of funding
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has called on all contractors to take part in the survey, as the data “will inform future commissioning of clinical education and development” of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and the wider pharmacy workforce, PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said.
The survey will be funded by an initial £15 million investment from the Pharmacy Integration Fund – a £42 million fund created last year to support community pharmacy to “develop new clinical pharmacy services, working practices and digital platforms” – up to March 2019, PSNC confirmed yesterday (August 3).
Pharmacies in London and the Thames Valley area have previously completed a “similar survey” and so will not receive a request to complete HEE’s survey, PSNC added.
Speaking exclusively to C+D this morning (August 4), CCA CEO Nanette Kerr said the survey – being conducted by research company Marketing Means UK – has the potential to be “really powerful”.
HEE and the Department of Health (DH) has data on GPs, nurses, hospital doctors and pharmacists, Ms Kerr said. But “there is no base line for community pharmacy”, which has led to a “gap in the overall knowledge of what [skills] are out there to deliver NHS services”.
The CCA garnered “almost 100% compliance” to the survey when member companies were asked to take part “earlier this year”.
“We have eight companies [consisting of] almost half of the pharmacies [in England],” Ms Kerr said. “HEE already has that information in the bag. They are halfway there.”