Almost three-quarters (72%) of primary care pharmacists and pharmacy technicians say they can see themselves working in the same GP practice in five years' time, a snapshot survey has shown.

In the same survey, pharmacy teams generally reported high levels of job satisfaction, often exceeding other direct patient care roles within general practice.

Around 100 respondents to the Qualitas survey of 3,728 staff members across 173 GP surgeries were pharmacy team members.

Some 72% of pharmacy staff said they either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: ‘I can see myself working here in five years' time’. Meanwhile, 18% were unsure, 5% disagreed, and 5% strongly disagreed.

According to these responses, pharmacy staff members had the highest projected retention of all the roles within general practice, except partners and managers.

Generally high levels of job satisfaction

In general, pharmacy staff reported high levels of job satisfaction:

  • 92% said they ‘always know' what is expected of them 'in terms of objectives and goals’
  • 85% of pharmacy team members said their job description ‘accurately describes' what they are expected to do
  • 85% said they had received training and opportunities to develop in their role
  • 89% said they were able to meet or exceed the needs of the patients they served
  • 84% said they were encouraged to get involved with identifying new and improved ways of doing things
  • 77% said their team were ‘supported to try out new approaches to release time or improve quality of care’
  • 90% said their manager encourages them to raise issues without fear of getting into trouble
  • 72% said they received the recognition they deserved for the contribution they made to the practice
  • 88% of pharmacy respondents said people in their practice ‘treat each other with respect, regardless of role’. Most other roles shared this view, but there was notably more disagreement from non-clinical staff and nurses.

Commenting on the results, chief pharmacist at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care Board, Minesh Parbat, said while the sample size was small, the findings showed a ‘positive outcome and recognition of what primary care pharmacy has to offer’.

‘I very much want to use this as a positive setting to inform pharmacy in primary care networks,’ he said.

‘Although it is a small sample size it gives us an insight into the fabulous work that's actually going on.’

What do GP pharmacists think needs to improve?

Staff across the general practice team said there were not enough staff to cope with the current workload.

Just over half (59%) of pharmacy team members said there was ‘sufficient staff' in their team to cope with the workload.

Pharmacy teams reported some of the highest level of satisfaction with staffing, following clinical partners and those who described their role as ‘other’.

But pharmacy views were similar to most other roles within the practice.

And 15% of pharmacy team members said they did not know if staffing was sufficient. A further 18% disagreed, and 8% said they strongly disagreed.

In qualitative responses to GP surveys carried out by Qualitas between 2021-2024, pharmacy respondents suggested that practices needed:

  • Additional staff to ease the growing demand from patients
  • Clear, consistent communication from the leadership and management
  • Increased opportunities for recognition
  • To address favouritism of some staff members over others
  • Increased willingness of reception staff to engage with patients and colleagues
  • Positive, respectful practice cultures with approachable members that work well and support overall morale

'Crucial' to integrate feedback from GP pharmacists

Carline Hine, head of strategy and innovation at Qualitas, said: 'Our survey reveals that while pharmacy staff are highly engaged and satisfied, there is a pressing need for more integrated support and resources.'

And she said that it was 'crucial' to integrate 'valuable feedback from pharmacy staff' into 'actionable strategies to improve effectiveness and patient satisfaction'.

Graham Stretch, president of the Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA), said the survey broadly reflected the PCPA's findings.

'I am pleased to see captured in this study the job satisfaction, feelings of being valued, sense of belonging and return on investment in training amongst pharmacy professionals working in general practice and primary care networks.

'I speak to hundreds of PCPA members and, whilst some have experienced difficulty, the overwhelming majority enjoy high levels of autonomy, professional satisfaction and make real contributions to their patients wellbeing,' he added.

Read how North East London Integrated Care Board (ICB) tackled retention issues due to pay disparity between inner and outer London sites, with a scheme offering clinical pharmacists portfolio roles across general practice and specialist or academic work.