GP networks have hired nearly 4,000 pharmacists under the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS), the latest data has shown.

According to figures published by NHS Digital, as many as 3,880 FTE pharmacists were working in primary care networks as of December 2022, up from 3,127 in March 2022.

The dataset also indicated 2,448 care coordinators were working across PCNs in December, with 2,345 social prescribing link workers also in-post at the same time.

Pharmacy technicians were the fourth most hired role (1,246), with the number of physiotherapists standing at 1,102.

The least hired-into roles were podiatrists – with just 40 FTE staff as of December 2022 – followed by dieticians (88).

It comes as PCNs near the final year of the Network Contract, with NHS leaders urging clinical directors to ‘maximise’ the funding available for ARRS, or risk losing it.

In November, Dr Richard Vautrey, former chair of the BMA general practitioner’s committee and CD of Central North Leeds PCN, told directors: ‘The key is trying to maximise the ARRS funding in this final year. Do all you can to recruit and to use that funding because once it’s embedded into the system then I think that will then be retained but then if you don’t spend it, it will get lost and there’s a real risk that we actually lose that funding from the GMS envelope beyond 2024.’

And in September, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced a number of new roles would be added to the list of staff available under the ARRS, including GP assistants and digital and transformation leads.

This article first appeared on our sister publication Pulse.