The NHS workforce plan, to be published in full on Friday (30 June), is set to include the whole of the pharmacy workforce and offer commitments to investment in training and education.

Since the workforce plan was proposed, pharmacy leaders have been calling for it to cover all pharmacy sectors, asking for specific reassurance that it would include community pharmacy teams and set out how to make best use of the pharmacist workforce across different settings.

Speaking about the plan due to be published in full tomorrow, Tase Oputu, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England, commented: ‘Pharmacy leaders have been united in calling for the workforce plan to cover the whole of pharmacy and it is welcome to see this reflected.’

She added: ‘Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and wider pharmacy teams will be crucial to reducing health inequalities and supporting the health service of the future so that patients can continue to access the medicines and care they need.’

Ms Oputu also welcomed the plan’s commitment to ‘investing in pharmacy education and training’.

‘We all want to see improved support for our workforce so we can keep looking after patients, including steps to recruit and retain pharmacists within the profession,’ she continued.

But she said that ‘how this plan is put into practice’, and whether it would be backed by long-term funding, would be ‘key to its success’.

Nicola Stockmann, vice president, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, said that the plan was expected to be ‘a major milestone and an achievement for all who have campaigned and worked towards this’, but added that if it was to have ‘long-term and impactful benefits’ for patients and the pharmacy workforce, key enablers identified in the plan would need to be delivered and followed up.

The plan is set to come with over £2.4bn to fund additional education and training places over five years on top of existing funding commitments, the government said in a statement.

This will include a plan to double medical school training places to 15,000 by 2031, with more places in areas with the greatest shortages, increase the number of GP training places by 50% to 6,000 by 2031, and almost double the number of adult nurse training places by 2031, with 24,000 more nurse and midwife training places a year by 2031.

And the government said that alongside retention measures, this could mean that the health service has at least an extra 60,000 doctors, 170,000 more nurses and 71,000 more allied health professionals in place by 2036/37.

And ‘to ensure the NHS can draw on the widest pool of talent’, the plan will set out the provision of more training places through degree apprenticeships, so that by 2028, 16% of all training for clinical staff will be offered through this route.

It will also contain a ‘renewed focus on retention’, ‘better opportunities for career development’, ‘improved flexible working options’, and government reforms to the pension scheme.

And the plan will be reviewed and refreshed at least every two years to ensure that it continues to meet future workforce needs.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the plan as ‘the cornerstone for our vision for a better, more modern healthcare system’ that will put the NHS ‘on a sure footing for the long term’.

And Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said that the plan would ‘end the reliance on expensive agency staff, while cutting waiting lists in the coming years and building an NHS which can match up to the scale of tomorrow’s challenges’.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said that on the 75th birthday of the NHS, the ‘unprecedented plan’ would ‘ensure the service can continue caring for us for generations to come.’

While Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, described the strategy as an ‘important milestone for both staff and patients’ that would help reinforce public faith in the NHS.

‘We have been clear for a long time that the enormous challenges the NHS faces cannot be met without sufficient numbers of staff, and we hope that this plan will address the long term workforce issues relating to retention and recruitment,’ she added.

And she said that the success of the workforce strategy would be seen in whether it results in ‘the expansion of safe, effective and compassionate care’, and whether it allows more patients ‘to become partners in their own care and in the design and delivery of the services they use’.

She added that patient involvement in its implementation ‘will be key to making it a success’.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that while he welcomed the plan, the NHS Confederation saw it as ‘the crucial first leg in a three-legged stool that the NHS needs to revive and thrive’. He said that an equivalent plan for the social care workforce was also needed, alongside extra investment in capital and technology.

But Wes Streeting MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said that the proposed plan should have been enacted ‘a decade ago’.

He said: ‘The Conservatives have finally admitted they have no ideas of their own, so are adopting Labour’s plan to train the doctors and nurses the NHS needs. They should have done this a decade ago – then the NHS would have enough staff today.

‘Instead, the health service is short of 150,000 staff and this announcement will take years to have an impact.’