The £20,000 golden handshake for pharmacists to become partners in general practice risks ‘destabilising’ the sector, pharmacists have warned.

The cash boost for community pharmacists to join general practice as partners, which was announced as part of the latest GP contract, could leave community pharmacies understaffed and increase pressure on other staff. 

Speaking to The Pharmacist, community pharmacist at Copes Pharmacy in Sutton, Ash Soni, warned that community pharmacy risks losing highly skilled pharmacists to general practice.

He said: ‘General practice pharmacists who are not offered partnerships may go looking for partnerships in other pharmacies. The practice could then look to community pharmacy to find their new recruit.

‘This will pull people out of the community pharmacy setting. There is then a risk of destabilising community pharmacy.

‘Practices could take the most highly qualified pharmacists from community pharmacy, leaving the community pharmacy workforce less capable than before.’

He also expressed concerns about the impact the move could have on the well-being of community pharmacists.

‘If a pharmacy is left with fewer pharmacists, this increases the pressure and stress on the [remaining] pharmacist and their team, because they’re just having to work harder,’ Mr Soni said.

Superintendent pharmacist and managing director of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, Mike Hewitson, echoed some of Mr Soni’s concerns.

He said: ‘The incentive could have a big impact on rural areas where there is already enough pressure on the community pharmacy workforce.

‘Anything that pulls pharmacists out of community pharmacy right now is unwelcome and potentially unsustainable.’

The GP contract for 2020/21 that was announced earlier this month offers first-time partners a £20,000 one-off payment, plus an additional £3,000 for business training under the New to Partnership Payment.