Health committee’s new report calls for urgent pharmacy workforce plan

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The Health Committee’s new report has reminded the government of a much-needed pharmacy workforce plan to support recruitment, training, and retention of staff.

The report makes a number of recommendations to optimise workloads across primary care, reduce pressure on general practice and hospitals, and support the integrated care systems.

It also recognises the potential of pharmacist independent prescribers to support patient care, backed by appropriate supervision, training, and opportunities for professional development.

RPS England gave evidence to MPs on the Committee at a public hearing in May, highlighting key issues to support the pharmacy workforce.

RPS director for England, Ravi Sharma, said: “Today’s report underlines the urgent need for the Government to set out a comprehensive workforce plan for health and care.

“It rightly recognises that boosting recruitment and retention, supporting staff wellbeing, fostering inclusion and diversity, and investing in education and training will be crucial to the future of the NHS.

“Pharmacy teams will play a key role in the NHS recovery, but with continued pressures on staff we need support for the workforce so they can keep looking after patients.

“The next generation of pharmacist independent prescribers will make a huge difference to patient care, but there are some key factors to make the most of their skills.

“I would urge the Government and NHS to listen to the Committee’s call for an integrated and funded workforce plan for pharmacy, which ensures that all pharmacists have adequate access to supervision, training, and protected learning time, along with clear structures for professional development.”

Responding to the report, Malcolm Harrison, CEO of the Company Chemists’ Association, called it “yet another reminder that the entire healthcare system is suffering from recruitment and retention challenges – and that community pharmacy is not immune.

“We wholeheartedly support the Committee’s call for a funded and integrated workforce plan – something that the CCA has advocated for some time, and it must be published without delay.

“We also agree the plan must account for the onset of all newly qualified pharmacists eventually becoming independent prescribers. Greater opportunities must also be granted for independent prescribers in community settings, to utilise their newly acquired skills. As the report highlights, pharmacies can only do more if they are able to access the funding and investment they need.

“We also thank the Expert Panel report for highlighting the staffing challenges in community pharmacy and in particular the recruitment of pharmacists from community settings directly into Primary Care Networks.”

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