By Stephen Thomas

Those of us who work in community pharmacy know there is a workforce crisis created in large measure by PCNs actively recruiting pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from our sector. It is welcome, if long overdue, that this has now been officially acknowledged in a report commissioned by the English Health Secretary.

PCN hiring ‘exacerbates pharmacist shortage’ says DH-commissioned report, which states such recruitment has “on occasion exacerbated the problem of a general shortage of pharmacists” which has compounded “the problem of community pharmacy closures.”

We have been telling the government this for years only to be told “problem? What problem?”- but now that Steve Barclay has his own official report sitting on his desk, he and NHSE cannot continue in denial mode. The facts are there for all to see. Time to act. No more dithering, delay or indifference. You asked if there was a problem and you have been told there is.

In the absence of a holistic workforce strategy and cross-sector career pathways, PCNs poaching from community pharmacy is a zero sum game adding nothing to improving patient care.

Future cohorts of pharmacists should have career experiences which span community, primary and secondary roles. That would motivate and benefit them as well as improving patient care, but where is the plan to make that a reality?

Stephen Thomas is superintendent pharmacist at Rowlands Pharmacy.


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