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NHS Pay Review Body should focus on the pay rates of pharmacists in bands 5-8: PDA

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It also highlighted several workforce challenges that have impacted the recruitment and retention of pharmacists across all areas of pharmacy practice.    

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has submitted evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body (PRB), emphasising on the recruitment and retention of NHS pharmacists.

It has urged the PRB to help the NHS achieve two important objectives – ensuring that pharmacists can achieve well-rewarded and the service is viewed as an appealing alternative by student pharmacists.

The PDA suggested that for the NHS to remain competitive, the PRB should focus its pay approach on employees within Bands 5-8 this year.

It recognised that the last recommendation from the PRB was a “flat rate increase” and it left those working in the above-mentioned bands feeling “unhappy”, which led to the CSP taking strike action over pay for the first time in their history.

Consequently, it recommended that this year’s recommendations should be referred to and linked to the 2018 restructuring of the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay bands.

Paul Moloney, PDA Union National Officer said: “The PDA has become increasingly concerned that the Pay Review Body receives no submission specifically related to pharmacists employed under Agenda for Change terms and conditions and we wanted to change that.

“We have therefore produced evidence to show the urgency of ensuring that pharmacists are fairly renumerated for the work they do and acknowledging that for many the purchasing power of their income has fallen over successive years.”

“While we are not arguing for special treatment for our 7,000 members in hospitals, we make a strong case for the PRB to look specifically as the pay bands our members work in and use that analysis as the driving force for this year’s recommendation to government on NHS pay,” he added.

As of 31 December 2023, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) register listed 64,104 pharmacists, with 54,119 of them located in England.

The PDA highlighted that while the number of registered pharmacists continues to grow “several workforce challenges” have impacted the recruitment and retention of pharmacists across all areas of pharmacy practice.

The workforce-related issues included chronic understaffing, sub-standard working environments, the inability to exercise their professional judgement, an absence of protected training time and experiences of racism, violence and abuse.

According to the Pharmacy Workforce Race Equality Standard (PWRES) report published by NHS England in September 2023, pharmacy team members of Black, Asian and minority ethnic origin experience more “harassment, bullying and abuse, poorer career progression and greater experience of discrimination” than White pharmacy team members.

In a survey conducted by the PDA, around 77 per cent of hospital pharmacists revealed that they were looking to change their career or employment status in the next 12-18 months, citing pressure and mental health concerns and pay as the primary issues

Other concerns were burnout, workplace pressure (not enough resources, skill mix) and dissatisfaction (lack of reward, feeling undervalued and demotivated).

A small number of respondents (four per cent) identified bullying and harassment as their main concerns.

In December 2023, the PDA carried out a separate workforce temperature check of over 2,000 pharmacists working in all areas of practice and it was found that nearly one-third of respondents were looking to leave pharmacy altogether

Approximately two-third of them were required to undertake more non-clinical work due to a lack of support staffing.

Further, the representative body of pharmacists reported that many of its members have chosen to become locum pharmacists to help manage workplace stress and poor mental health.

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