Pharmacists working across community, practices and hospitals are ‘getting much closer’ to the idea of being ‘one workforce’ than has previously been the case, the chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) for England, David Webb, has said.

Mr Webb was speaking at this year’s Pharmacy Show in Birmingham when he was asked by press whether funding for the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) would be better spent in community settings.

The CPhO responded that it was ‘very easy’ to present funding for community and practice pharmacists as ‘sort of binary choices, one or the other’.

‘The reality is that the pharmacy professionals make a huge contribution in whichever sector,’ he added.

Instead, he said that the pharmacy workforce should be viewed as one workforce at an integrated care system (ICS) level, rather than focusing on the number of pharmacists in each setting.

He added that pharmacist roles might be ‘deployed in different places’ in different systems, because the pressures might vary in different systems.

The 42 ICSs across England, each covering a different geographical area, bring together health and social care services to improve population health and wellbeing.

Mr Webb said that he thought that pharmacists were ‘getting much closer’ to the idea of ‘one workforce’ than they had been previously.

‘We used to sort of really celebrate difference. We used to say, well, that's a hospital pharmacist, and that's a community pharmacist, and that’s a pharmacist in general practice. I think it's much more fluid now,’ he said, adding that young professionals within the workforce saw their careers in this way.

He added that local patterns of work should reflect this idea of fluidity, as well as recognising the pressures on the workforce and the needs of the system.

And they follow a report by The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust which recently suggested more should be done to ‘support collaboration’ rather than ‘fostering competition’ between community pharmacists and general practice.

Last year, the deputy chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) for England, Dr Bruce Warner, suggested that independent prescribing could increase the likelihood of pharmacists having ‘portfolio careers’ across general practice and community pharmacy.