The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) pharmacists working in Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in England increased by 11% from September to December 2021, data from NHS Digital shows. 

In its quarterly report, published last week, NHS Digital said that 2,924 pharmacists were working in PCNs in December, which amounted to almost 300 more pharmacists than in September 2021. 

The data also revealed that the number of PCN pharmacy technicians rose by 21% between September 2020 and September 2021, from 562 to 682. 

NHS Digital said that headcount totals were ‘unlikely to equal the sum of components, due in part to individuals working across multiple roles and areas’. 

According to the data, of the seven NHS England and Improvement regions, the Midlands had the highest reported number of PCN pharmacists at 696. Whereas the Southwest had the lowest number at 255. 

Authors of the data report said that this month’s figures could be inflated due to the way PCNs have been recording their data. 

‘Guidance has since been issued directly to PCNs to explain this process and it is expected that this will result in more accurate contracted services information being submitted for the December 2021 collection,’ they said. 

This comes as the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has identified a shortfall of more than 3,000 community pharmacists in England which has developed over the last five years. 

However, The PDA and several pharmacists have disputed these findings, suggesting that there is no shortage.  

In December, The NPA called on local NHS teams to consider the impact that the continued recruitment of pharmacists and technicians into primary care networks (PCNs) could have on the delivery of community pharmacy services.