The new generation of pharmacists will not be satisfied with the ‘status quo’ of working in just one sector, Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA) president Dr Graham Stretch warned a community pharmacy conference this week.

He warned contractors that younger pharmacists would ‘force our hands’ into creating multi-sector working opportunities.

And he said that providers would have to facilitate multi-sector working in order to retain and improve their staff, noting that ORIEL applications for hosting a trainee placement – now open to both general practices and community pharmacies – close this week.

‘Those individuals, those trainees you see having a fantastic time working between sectors, becoming prescribers upon qualification, they're going to force our hands, the older people in the room, because they're not going to be satisfied with the status quo.

‘They're going to want to use those skills, they’re going to know what it's like to work between sectors, they’re going to be demanding of us opportunities to do that.

‘If we're serious about retaining and improving our staff that we're going to have to facilitate that.

‘And I would welcome that. So, let's be driven by trainees coming through and how they develop in order to be able to use our workforce in a smart way,’ he told delegates at the Sigma conference this week.

And he suggested that general practices and community pharmacies used joint training placements, which are optional for next year but compulsory for 2026, as a ‘catalyst’ to work together.

He noted that community pharmacies could provide the dispensing requirement of the placement while general practices would be well placed to offer a prescribing setting.

‘Talk to the GPs who are the early adopters’ for working with community pharmacy, Dr Stretch advised.

Speaking to a predominantly community pharmacy audience, Dr Stretch acknowledged the impact that the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) has had on the community pharmacy workforce.

But he suggested that with new services like Pharmacy First and more widespread prescribing, community pharmacy was becoming more clinical and therefore a more attractive place to work.

He said that if they had access to the right systems, skills and information, much of the work currently done by general practice and PCN (primary care network) pharmacists could be done in a community setting.

‘I don’t think patients actually care whether it's done from a GP practice, or whether it's done from the community pharmacy, they just want their problem fixed,’ he said.

Some practices do already pay other organisations, including community pharmacies, to manage repeat medication between reviews, Dr Stretch noted.

‘There's an opportunity here to make that work,’ he added.

He also said that it was ‘absolutely clear’ that community pharmacy was an ‘ideal place’ to do immunisations.

‘I think it's really important that we work in more informed and more integrated ways,’ Dr Stretch told delegates.

He added: ‘There's a lot of thinking to do about how we make that practically possible, but it's really important we come together as pharmacists within ICBs [integrated care boards] and develop these [integrated] workforce models.’

Also speaking at the Sigma conference, registered nurse Carole Phillips told a GP present who asked about how to work more effectively with community pharmacy: ‘You're the voice. You lead it.

‘You've got pharmacists that are affiliated to you. Talk to your community pharmacy, get them in, get them to talk [at GP staff training days],’ she added.

And GP Professor Margaret Ikpoh, vice chair of professional development and standards at the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), also speaking at the Sigma conference, said: ‘Where I am, it's common practice to have pharmacists as partners in the practice, but that might be a negative concept to a lot of GP partners. The mindset will change.

‘It’s important that we're not picked off individually, and that's why it’s really valuable that we need to come together as a united voice because we have shared challenges.’

Also at the Sigma conference, Ash Soni, president of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), suggested that community pharmacies, GP practices and dentists should work together to create a ‘single collaborative local contract’ based on local health outcomes.