Understanding the responsibilities of a pharmacist employed under the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme and ensuring those in post are supported at work have been cited as recent challenges within primary care networks (PCNs) and practices.

Here, Krupa Dave and Devinder Kalsi, lead medicines optimisation pharmacists at Central London Community Healthcare Trust (CLCH), share the structured workplan the trust has developed to help PCNs work with clinical pharmacists.

It includes clinical supervision, training, development, and senior leadership to support the professional working relationship required for integration within the practices making up the PCNs.

This article was first published by our sister title Pulse PCN. If you’re a practice or PCN pharmacist, why not share it with your employer?

Recruitment and induction  

CLCH has developed and implemented:

  • Standardised band 7 and band 8a job descriptions and person specifications, in line with the national profile for pharmacy, which helps to streamline the shortlisting process;
  • Standardised interview process which includes ‘real’ case studies;
  • PCN knowledge gap analysis on induction, with ongoing review;
  • And an induction programme and checklist that includes:
    • Induction and onboarding
    • Access to clinical resources and training on relevant clinical systems
    • Introduction to GP practice
    • Introduction to systems and processes in the practice.

Banding structure

The PCN (Directed Enhanced Service) DES describes the ‘clinical pharmacist’ as a band of 7 or 8a, a term regularly used within NHS trusts but new to the primary care landscape.

The National Profiles for Pharmacy are nationally evaluated profiles based on information from job descriptions, person specifications and additional information, aligned to NHS Agenda for Change banding.

A newly qualified pharmacist, after completing their training year, will start as a band 6 pharmacist and progress through the banding with national and local training and experience. A band 8a pharmacist will provide and lead specialist pharmacy services, undertake risk management, provide expert advice, teach and supervise junior staff.

Below is a description of a list of duties that a band7/8a pharmacist working in a PCN could undertake. This is a guide only and is not intended to be exhaustive. Duties and responsibilities need to be adapted to the needs of the PCN.

Band 7

Role adapted as they proceed through the CPPE and IP pathway.

(Supervised until assessed as competent to conduct independently)

  • Medicine tasks/queries increasing complexity as the individual progresses through the CPPE pathway.
  • Medicines reconciliation from clinical and discharge letters.
  • High risk drug monitoring.
  • Localised incentive schemes e.g., audits, medicine switches, ICB medicine priorities
  • Actioning CAS Alerts
  • Long term condition-based reviews utilising a template.
  • Structured medication reviews.
  • Supervises less experienced pharmacists and technicians.
  • Advises junior medical staff and nurses on pharmacy matters.

Band 8a (duties as above and including below)

  • Responsible for leading, delivering and providing specialist pharmacy services. For example, medicines information or medicines management; undertaking risk management and ensuring compliance with medicines legislation.
  • Highly developed specialist knowledge and able to interpret complex facts or situations requiring analysis.
  • Provide expert advice on pharmaceutical matters in specialist field.
  • Lead and develop clinical audit.
  • Provide day to day, clinical supervision/management.
  • Oversee the teaching, training, and development of junior staff.

Development and retention 

Pharmacy staff working in PCNs and practices come from a variety of backgrounds such as community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and integrated care boards (ICBs), and have varying skills and knowledge in delivering clinical pharmacy services.

As a result of this, pharmacists employed by ARRS funding are required to enrol onto the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education Primary Care Pharmacy education pathway to equip them with the skills and knowledge to undertake activities within a PCN.

Alongside the programme, CLCH ensures tasks provided fit the ability of the team member, adapting as necessary. An in-house competency assessment is used to identify work-based gaps and inform training for individuals, so the staff member can continue their professional development while in these positions.

Supervision and mentorship 

Supervision is a process of professional learning and development that enables individuals to reflect on and develop their knowledge, skills, and competence, through regular support from another professional. It underpins good and safe patient care. Supervision is also a regulatory requirement; the Care Quality Commission (CQC) expects primary care providers to assure the capability, scope of practice and competency of their staff.

To support practices to meet the required supervision as stated in the PCN DES contract, CLCH has implemented the following:

  • 30-minute time slot at the end of the clinical session with the GP to talk through interventions and recommendations.
  • Attendance at clinical meetings or practice-based multi-disciplinary team meetings to discuss any complex patients.
  • Twice weekly (junior) or monthly (senior) clinical professional supervision sessions with a senior member of the CLCH pharmacy team, using the CLCH PCN developed clinical supervision proforma.

All the PCN pharmacists are on a joint telegram communication group for sharing good practice, troubleshooting, or to ask any medicine related questions. No patient details are shared on this platform, and it is moderated by the CLCH pharmacy team. Each week the pharmacists participate in CPD training covering various primary care focussed topics to enhance learning. All PCN pharmacists are required to deliver a training session to aid their development.

A staff satisfaction survey was sent to all the PCN pharmacists employed by CLCH. Eight out of 15 staff members completed the survey and results revealed 100% were satisfied with their job, felt supported in their role, and felt they had adequate supervision, mentorship, and opportunities to develop within their current role. The PCN pharmacy team recruited by CLCH currently has a 93% retention rate.


Having a clear structure in place regarding workplan, training, competency assessment, career progression, peer support and mentorship helps to make the PCN clinical pharmacist role a success.

This article was first published by our sister title Pulse PCN - join the conversation on LinkedIn.