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NHS England: Hiring PCN pharmacists could ‘disrupt’ community sector

Richard Cattell: Moving thousands of pharmacists in a small profession will be daunting
Richard Cattell: Moving thousands of pharmacists in a small profession will be daunting

Community pharmacy could face the most “disruption” when it comes to recruiting the planned 7,500 ‘clinical’ pharmacists to PCNs, NHS England’s Richard Cattell has said.

It is deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Mr Cattell's job to look at the possible “consequences” on the pharmacy workforce when implementing the NHS long-term plan, he said at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham yesterday (October 6).

He repeated his warning that it will be a challenge to fulfill NHS England’s aim of having six pharmacists working in each of the 1,300 primary care networks (PCNs) – groups of local GP practices covering an average of 50,000 people – by 2023-24.

“Probably the biggest challenge” is to create a “workforce of clinical pharmacists in a way that doesn’t disrupt other pharmacy services across a locality”, such as community pharmacy and mental health services, he told Pharmacy Show delegates.

When asked by Brentworth PCN clinical director Graham Stretch how pharmacists can be moved to PCNs without “destabilising” other sectors, Mr Cattell said NHS England “heard loud and clear” that recruiting PCNs pharmacists could be “an issue”.

“Our ambition of moving thousands of pharmacists in a fairly small profession over [a five-year period] is daunting,” he said.

But NHS England thinks it can “keep an eye on directly employed pharmacist numbers, where they are going and where they are coming [from]”, he explained.

While his “biggest anxiety” is disrupting the supply of chemotherapy pharmacists, “the challenge is within community pharmacy, because of the number of employers”, he said. “We’ve got to be very imaginative about how we do that and we've got to work through how that lands.”

While he and others at NHS England “are responsible for increasing the number of trainees”, employers can also play their part by being “enthusiastic about training, whether that's [for] undergraduate, pre-regs or junior pharmacists [roles]”, Mr Cattell added.

Are you concerned about losing staff to PCNs?

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

I have a novel idea to stop this disruption.......

Ronald Trump, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I put my locum rate up a few quid last month as I know lots of pharmacists have left community and they are struggling to recruit in my location, and nobody batted an eyelid. Simple Supply & Demand. I also do a very good job!

Andrew Jukes, Locum pharmacist

Yes maybe then IR35 will kick in, in April 2020 and make being a locum totally worthless....with none of the benefits.afforded to employees!

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Hopefully this will improve locum rates as the community supply will be less of an abundance - coming from a contractor


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