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The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has criticised Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group’s latest report on pharmacy workforce challenges as it does not address basic responsibilities of community pharmacy employers.

The joint report from the three major community pharmacy employer bodies — AIMp, CCA, and NPA — has highlighted a potential workforce crisis that is driven by difficulties in both recruiting and retaining colleagues at all levels, and a decline in the number of people looking to join the pharmacy profession.

The report states, “Reasons cited for colleagues leaving the profession are complex and multifaceted. They include concerns about pay, excessive workload and pressure, inflexible working hours, and a lack of opportunities for career progression.”

The PDA said: “Of the major factors mentioned, employers are mainly or exclusively in control of all of them, yet the report does not include a single mention of employers accepting that responsibility and committing to improve matters. Instead, the report recommends that others should make changes.”

It further added that the report is disappointing from the three major community pharmacy employer bodies as it ends with nine recommendations for others to act, but fails to include a single commitment about what the employers will do.

The PDA noted that it encourages community pharmacy employers to recognise the critical part that they play in shaping working environments and fulfil their own responsibilities as a first step to solving what they now publicly recognise as a potential crisis.

It also added the fact that the recommended changes to the structural factors are unlikely to create the desired outcome if the basics are not in place.

Review of the community pharmacy workforce has urged the professional bodies, higher education institutes, policy makers, and statutory education bodies to join employers to undertake a programme of collaborative work to ensure community pharmacy is seen as an attractive career choice for future pharmacists.

It further said that technicians should be added to Patient Group Directions as health professionals who can vaccinate patients.

The review recommended pharmacy teams should be supported to take on additional tasks, which allow pharmacists to deliver further clinical services.

It further suggested that primary care networks should be granted flexibility to utilise funding to commission local community pharmacies to deliver services.

“Community pharmacy teams need a programme of continued education. NHS and HEE should develop a programme of continued professional development and life-long structured learning for pharmacy teams, governed by the regulator, which maximises opportunities for participation,” the review said.

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