Community pharmacy requires funding to create a ‘stable’ environment that will attract students into the workforce, the chairman of the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum this week on the next steps for pharmacy in healthcare delivery in England, Andrew Lane said many students currently doing workplace placements in community pharmacy were seeing a ‘very chaotic’ sector in transition as it prepares for independent prescribing (IP).

Changes to pre-registration training will see all new pharmacists qualify as IPs from 2026.

‘We've got to make community pharmacy an attractive place to work as a career, and to a large extent, unless we get the funding right to be able to achieve what the end goal is for the NHS and make sure we have better outcomes for patients, we haven't really got that joined up correctly at the moment,’ he said.

‘We've got to see the funding flow through to ensure we have that stable environment to allow students, who then qualify, better aspirations for their careers in community pharmacy.’

Last year, the deputy chief pharmaceutical officer at NHS England voiced concerns about the need to guard against a ‘two-tier’ profession in the context of IP; while pharmacists have raised concerns about the lack of 'backfill' funding for trainees and DPPs, as well as around finding the time to train.

The need to ensure pharmacy students are coming into the industry has been shown by recent workforce figures.

Almost three-quarters of pharmacies are experiencing a shortage of pharmacists and vacancy rates for community pharmacists have doubled in five years, with pharmacists at risk of burnout as staffing shortages drive up locum rates.

Despite this, although health spending has increased, community pharmacy funding has dropped, and no new money for the NHS or pharmacies was announced in the Spring Budget earlier this month.

New and expanded services cannot go ahead without additional funding, namely a fully funded Pharmacy First scheme, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said, and a Save Our Pharmacies campaign website has been launched by leading national pharmacy bodies to give new focus to calls for fair pharmacy funding in England.