The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan announced:
- An expansion of training places for pharmacists by 29% to around 4,300 by 2028/29 and an ambition for training places to reach around 5,000 places by 2031/32
- An expansion of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme which will be “carefully managed taking into account additional training of pharmacists, to ensure the growth in workforce is sustainable, and considers the additional capacity required to staff roles across primary care”.
It also reaffirms existing plans around Independent Prescribing, the use of technology in primary care and the better use of skill mix within pharmacy teams, including pharmacy technicians.
Following the workforce plan’s publication, the following joint statement was issued by the Chief Executive of the CCA, Malcolm Harrison and Chief Executive of the NPA, Mark Lyonette:
“We are pleased to see the community pharmacy workforce included in both the plan and the associated modelling. The NHS now explicitly recognises the need for more pharmacists, to match ever-increasing patient demand and the development of clinical services.
“By including the pharmacy workforce within the scope of the plan, the NHS is recognising the importance of integrating the third largest healthcare profession in strategic, long term planning.
“We are doubtful about the decision to continue funding of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS). ARRS only makes sense if it is adding capacity to the primary care system, not stripping capacity from other community and secondary care settings. However, the plan does at least recognise the need to “carefully manage” the expansion of ARRS and consider the additional capacity required to staff roles across primary care. We have consistently called for the impact on community pharmacies to be mitigated and we now look forward to further details.
“Any action must be coordinated at a national as well as ICB-level, if it is to be truly effective, and to prevent systems competing against each other for resources.
“First announced back in 2021, Independent Prescribing (IP) changes will create a once in a generation opportunity – the NHS must now be clearer on the opportunities prescribing pharmacists will have in the future. Plans to upskill the existing workforce to become IPs must also gather pace, the need is now and we must work together to realise opportunity.
“Efforts to boost skill mix, including the use of pharmacy technicians are welcome. Technicians should be added to the list of healthcare professionals who can work under a Patient Group Direction”.