Sector leaders have asked for reassurance that the promised NHS workforce plan will include community pharmacy teams.

In the autumn statement in November, the government committed to publish a workforce plan in 2023 that would outline the number of different healthcare professionals needed for the next five, 10 and 15 years.

Will Quince, minister of state for health and secondary care, confirmed that the plan would include the pharmacy workforce, following a written question from Liberal Democrat MP and spokesperson for health and social care Daisy Cooper.

But community pharmacy leaders have now asked for confirmation that the plan will include the entirety of the pharmacy workforce across the healthcare service, including in community pharmacy.

In a letter to Mr Quince dated 21 December 2022, sector representatives said that they welcomed the Government’s commitment to publish a long-term workforce plan but were ‘concerned by a lack of engagement with pharmacy stakeholders about its development’.

They added: ‘Pharmacy teams played a vital role during the Covid-19 pandemic and as their skills continue to evolve they will be central to improving patient access to healthcare. With more than 52,000 pharmacists, 21,000 pharmacy technicians and a range of support staff, the plan needs to be something which the whole of the health and care workforce can recognise.’

They also cited the recent Health and Social Care Committee’s workforce report that highlighted the need for ‘an integrated and funded workforce plan for pharmacy’ if pharmacy teams were to play a greater role in primary care and help ease NHS pressures.

The report noted that such a plan would need to ensure ‘adequate access to education supervision, training, and protected learning time, along with clear structures for professional development’.

It also said that the government should set out a roadmap for making best use of independent prescribing skills, which all newly qualified pharmacists will hold from 2026, including what services would be commissioned.

Sector leaders said that they would welcome the opportunity to help shape and inform a pharmacy workforce plan, adding that continued pressure on healthcare services made it ‘more important than ever’ to support the pharmacy workforce to deliver patient care now and into the future.

The letter was signed by leaders from organisations across the community pharmacy sector:

  • Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive, Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies
  • Claire Steele, president, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK
  • Joseph Williams, chair, British Oncology Pharmacy Association
  • Priyanka Patel, president, British Pharmaceutical Students' Association
  • Roz Gittins, president, College of Mental Health Pharmacy
  • Malcolm Harrison, chief executive, Company Chemists’ Association
  • Nathan Burley, president, Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists
  • Mark Lyonette, chief executive, National Pharmacy Association
  • Mark Koziol, chair, Pharmacists’ Defence Association
  • Janet Morrison OBE, chief executive, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee
  • Prof Katie Maddock, chair, Pharmacy Schools Council
  • Dr Graham Stretch, president, Primary Care Pharmacy Association
  • Thorrun Govind, English Pharmacy Board chair, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
  • Mohamed Rahman, chair, UK Clinical Pharmacy Association.