The deputy chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) for NHS England, Dr Bruce Warner, has retired today.

Colleagues within the sector have thanked him for his work, including for championing the clinical role of community pharmacy and integrating pharmacists and pharmacy technicians within GP practices.

Dr Warner has been the deputy CPhO since 2014, having previously worked in pharmacy for 40 years, including 15 years running a community pharmacy.

Chief pharmaceutical officer David Webb said that at NHS England Dr Warner had ‘championed the clinical role of community pharmacy including most recently the independent prescribing pathfinder programme’.

‘He helped make it possible for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to work in general practices, boosting both career choices and patient access, led the cross-organisational work to manage medicines supply, advised on patient safety and provided vital expertise for our emergency responses to Covid-19, mpox and strep A,’ he added in a post on LinkedIn.

Meanwhile, Dr Graham Stretch, Primary Care Pharmacy Association president, said Dr Warner had been 'instrumental in developing the role of pharmacy professionals’ in general practice, primary care networks and care homes.

‘We are now, due in no small part to his efforts, in a place where now every patient has access to pharmacy expertise in their GP practice or care home,’ added Dr Stretch.

‘Bruce has a remarkable ability to bring people together and on behalf of all primary care pharmacy professionals we’d like to thank him for his tireless contribution.’

Others within the sector have also taken to social media to thank Dr Warner for his work.

As of March 2023, 6,331 full-time equivalent (FTE) pharmacists had been recruited to work in PCNs and general practice under the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme since the funding was introduced in 2019 – the most recruited role under the scheme.

And 732 FTE advanced pharmacist practitioners as well as 2,142 FTE pharmacy technicians had also been recruited through ARRS.

Independent prescribing pathway sites have also been established across England to work out the details of how independent prescribing will work in a community pharmacy setting.

Speaking at an event in October hosted by the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), Dr Warner said he thought it was likely that pharmacists would begin to have ‘portfolio careers’ across general practice and community settings, and added that work needed to be done to make the community pharmacy sector a more attractive place for independent prescribers (IPs) to work.

And he emphasised the need to train the current workforce as IPs in order to ‘guard against a two-tier service’ where newly registered pharmacists graduate as prescribers but current pharmacists who have not yet trained as prescribers don’t have the opportunity to take advantage of the future introduction of new clinical services.

Earlier this month, CPhO Mr Webb said that the new Pharmacy First plans announced in the primary care recovery plan supported the direction of travel towards independent prescribing in NHS community pharmacy services, repeating his calls for pharmacy employers to train enough staff to meet the sector’s needs.