NHS England (NHSE) could consider employing pre-registration pharmacists, the deputy chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) for England has suggested.

At the Clinical Pharmacy Congress (CPC) today, Richard Cattell said he was thinking about ways to bring the pharmacist profession – across community, practice and hospital settings – together to address workforce and training challenges.

This could include convening a cross-setting working group, he said.

And he suggested considering what could be done to increase the possibility of portfolio careers for pharmacists.

‘Why wouldn’t we look at different ways of employing people?’

At the CPC event in London, Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) chair Mark Koziol challenged the deputy CPhO to consider whether NHS England could employ pre-registration pharmacist trainees, as is currently done in Scotland and Wales.

In Wales, all pharmacist trainees are employed by NHS Wales, and all undertake multi-sector placements across hospital, community and general practice.

Mr Koziol asked whether the NHS in England would consider employing trainee pharmacists and sending them into general practice and community settings for training.

‘Absolutely,’ the deputy CPhO replied, adding it was a ‘great idea’.

‘Why wouldn’t we look at different ways of employing people?’ he said.

Considering profession-wide working group to address training challenges

In response to a question from Helga Mangion, policy manager at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), Mr Cattell said that he was considering convening a working group including hospital, community and practice pharmacy representatives to address workforce and training challenges.

Ms Magnion suggested that with pharmacy facing its ‘biggest workforce crisis ever’, professional development could be crucial to recruiting and retaining staff.

Though she said that this would need to be a ‘multi-team approach’ across general practice, community and hospital settings.

And she called for additional funding to support community pharmacies to backfill training time.

Mr Cattell responded that he was thinking about how to bring the profession together, including thinking about creating a cross-sector group.

But he neglected to answer Ms Magion’s question about backfill funding.

What can we do to make portfolio careers easy to achieve?

The deputy CPhO also suggested that better enabling of portfolio careers might make pharmacy a more attractive profession, particularly for early career pharmacists who he said ‘want different things’ to older pharmacists.

‘What can we do as a system to make portfolio careers easier to achieve?’ he said.

Mr Cattell also said he would take up one audience member’s suggestion of looking at how portfolio jobs between different organisations could be listed on the NHS Jobs website.

And he suggested he wanted to consider how to support national organisations to discuss solutions to local issues, such as finding designated prescribing practitioners (DPPs).