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.