The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England have agreed to remove the requirement for community pharmacies to complete an annual patient satisfaction survey, following negotiations with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

Instead, the completion of the annual Health Education England (HEE) community pharmacy workforce survey will become part of the Terms of Service, including identifying the number of vacancies and regions where these are particularly hard to fill.

PSNC said that this was necessary to provide ‘high quality data’ and give a clearer picture of the workforce challenges facing pharmacy.

However, it had negotiated the removal of the requirement for a patient satisfaction survey ‘in recognition of the workload associated with completing the annual workforce survey’ and the increasing pressures on pharmacy as a sector.

Both changes will come into effect from 1 October 2022.

Last month, the PSNC called for additional funding for pharmacy in what it described as ‘one of the toughest periods’ ever.

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at PSNC said: ‘Everybody in the sector knows that contractors are struggling to recruit and retain staff in their pharmacies and that workforce planning needs to be improved. But effective workforce planning is impossible without high quality data on the current community pharmacy workforce.

‘That is why PSNC has agreed to completion of the HEE workforce survey becoming a Terms of Service requirement, but recognising the pressures contractors and their teams are currently under, we have also negotiated the removal of the burdensome patient satisfaction survey requirement.

‘This means the sector will have the data to enable the Government and NHS to better support community pharmacy workforce planning, while removing some workload from pharmacy teams.’