Filling required clinical pharmacy roles a “challenge”

According to NHS England’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, fulfilling NHS England’s aim of having six clinical pharmacists in each of the primary care networks (PCNs) by 2023-24 will be a “really big challenge”.

Addressing the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (PTUK) recently, Richard Cattell said that while there are already some ‘clinical’ pharmacists working in PCNs, finding the extra people will be difficult, as there is little in the way of a pipeline.

To achieve NHS England’s objective, 7,500 clinical pharmacists would need to be recruited within the timeframe to cover all 1,300 PCNs, which were set up in July to cover 50,000 patients each.

New funding is being made available to PCNs via a contract held across practices in the network to develop shared services such as social prescribing, practice-based community pharmacy support, enhanced health services for care homes, digital forms of access to general practice, and enhanced early cancer diagnosis.

However, as Mr Cattell admitted, there is “work to do” to ensure that pharmacy is something people want to study, and “people like him” in NHS England will need to encourage educational institutions to provide the right kind of training, in the right way and ensure that the policy context is right. He added that all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have a role to play in supporting PCNs.

Critics claim that the GPs leading PCNs need support to manage their workload to avoid a wave of doctors walking away from the role and that NHS England’s focus on high achievers could leave behind ‘immature’ PCNs, which have been formed by practices with little or no experience of working together.

Rob Cadwallader, General Practice Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “The NHS has work to do if it is to reach its target with regards to clinical pharmacists. The workload of GPs is already significant and the PCN’s face seeing many GPs leaving entirely, while pharmacy must be made into a more attractive career proposition.

“For advice on matters relating to GPs and Healthcare, contact Milsted Langdon today.”