With many staff across primary care entitled to a pay uplift, The Pharmacist takes a look at how recent pay deals will impact pharmacists working in general practice and Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

6% uplift for salaried practice staff – at employer discretion

This month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced a 6% uplift in general practice funding, intended to cover a pay uplift for salaried GPs and other salaried practice staff in England.

The payment will be backdated to April 2023, and DHSC said that it expects that the funding will be ‘passed on promptly to all salaried general practice staff’,

But the decision to pass on the uplift is at the discretion of each employer.

Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), said that ‘where an uplift in government financing has been explicitly provided to GP practices to increase the salaries of those directly employed by GP practices’, the PDA ‘expect to see that increase passed on to individuals in accordance with terms of the funding’.

And he said that the PDA was supporting its members ‘collectively and individually as appropriate’, including where pharmacists at some GP Federations had recognition to collectively negotiate pay via the PDA Union (PDAU).

He added that ‘all employed pharmacists, whatever their contractual circumstances’, deserve ‘at least a similar pay increase’ to the 6% uplift in general practice funding.

5% uplift for ARRS staff – at PCN discretion

Many pharmacists working in a general practice setting are employed by their local PCN under the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS).

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed to The Pharmacist that the 6% pay uplift for general practice does not apply to staff employed under ARRS, whose salary terms are set in the PCN DES.

As of this month, PCNs are able to claim 5% more than they were previously able to for reimbursement for ARRS salaries.

They will now be able to claim up to £62,340 per clinical pharmacist and £40,159 per pharmacy technician, compared to £59,312 and £38,187 previously – not taking into account the High Cost Area Supplements (HCAS).

This could bring PCN salaries in line with the 5% consolidated increase in pay, worth at least £1,065, offered to Agenda for Change staff for 2023/24 following talks with striking health unions.

But while PCNs are now allowed to spend more on staff salaries, they have not been given any increase in overall funding to do so.

This means that if PCNs pay current ARRS staff more, they risk having less money to hire further roles, with clinical directors suggesting they will need to revise their recruitment plans.

What about community pharmacy?

Salaries in community pharmacy are at the discretion of each employer, but many contractors have indicated that rising wages are putting financial pressure on their businesses.

A recent report by locum placement platform Locate a Locum found that UK locum pharmacist pay reached an average £38.74 per hour in the 2022/23 financial year – an increase of 19% from the previous year.

Regional variations meant that locum pharmacists in Scotland could earn around £46.03 per hour, compared to an average of £42.91 an hour in Wales and £28.11 in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, newly qualified pharmacists in multiple Superdrug are paid £50,000 per year (as of March 2023), a salary that the company described as ‘the strongest renumeration package on the high street today’.

Industry leaders have told The Pharmacist that increasing pharmacy team salaries in line with increases to the national living wage would put pressure on pharmacy finances.

And over half of pharmacy owners said that workforce costs were causing ‘10/10’ levels of financial pressure, in a recent survey by Community Pharmacy England (CPE).