Pharmacy bodies have responded warmly to the launch of the NHS Interim People plan, published this week (4 June), which sets out the agenda for the healthcare workforce in the year ahead.
The document builds on the ambitions of the NHS Long-Term Plan to give pharmacists an enhanced role in delivering healthcare services and begins to set out how this will be achieved.
PSNC: ‘Take all opportunities to update your skills’
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) welcomed the plan’s offering of training to community pharmacy and stressed that contractors should make the most of the chance for professional development.
PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said: ‘With prevention and urgent care high on the NHS Long-Term Plan’s list of priorities, we are pleased to see that the Interim People Plan picks out community pharmacy as one of the sectors that will benefit from workforce development.’
Mr Buxton expressed hopes that a promise of funding will feature in the full plan.
He said: ‘The interim plan shows that the NHS also recognises its role in making sure the right training and support is available to help community pharmacy deliver the services of the future; we look forward to investment in upskilling the pharmacy workforce featuring in the full People Plan.’
He recommended that pharmacy teams ‘take all opportunities to update their skills’ so they can meet the NHS’s future needs.
RPS: Funded training needed
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) praised the Government’s renewed focus on pharmacists’ clinical skills and similarly called for funding to follow.
RPS director of education Gail Fleming said: ‘We strongly support Government aspirations around prevention and helping people get the most from their medicines. The important role of pharmacists within multi-professional teams is recognised and we welcome the investment in postgraduate training to enhance their clinical skills.’
She added that the target of recruiting 5,000 pharmacists into primary care networks will greaten the need for investment.
Ms Fleming said: ‘Meeting this demand will be challenging and require a strategic approach to leadership, education and training to maintain a safe, capable and adaptable workforce. Central to this must be a funded model of foundation training and professional development so that pharmacists can build on their initial education and enhance their skills throughout their careers.
‘The RPS will work with the NHS and other key partners through the Pharmacy Education Governance Oversight Board to push forward post-registration training that supports pharmacists to provide care across a range of settings to patients with increasingly complex needs.’
Aside from financial support, Ms Fleming also outlined the need to address the pressures affecting the pharmacy workforce.
She said: ‘It’s vital that workforce pressures affecting pharmacists are addressed as part of the drive to make the NHS ‘the best place to work’. Systems must be in place to support pharmacists whatever sector they work in and improve their working conditions as part of the drive to create better work life balance and reduce stress levels.’
Ms Fleming added: ‘The NHS Long-Term Plan is ambitious for pharmacy, but it will be a missed opportunity to improve patient outcomes if the Government fails to invest the workforce of the future.’
GPhC: ‘We want to work together to reform training’
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) was pleased to see the plan’s vision of a greater role for pharmacy teams across both primary and secondary care but also stressed that pharmacy education needed an overhaul to support this.
GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin said: ‘It is vital that the education and training of pharmacy professionals and the wider team gives them the necessary knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to successfully take on new roles and provide safe and effective care for people.
‘We have already begun a major programme of work to modernise the standards for education and training of the pharmacy team so they can meet the needs of health services and patients in the future.'
He continued: ‘We want to work closely with everyone involved to take forward the actions outlined in the plan, including working together to reform undergraduate and preregistration training to align with the vision for the future pharmacy workforce.’
Mr Rudkin added that the GPhC will contribute ‘wherever possible’ to the development of the full People Plan that will follow the Government’s next spending review.
NPA: Community pharmacy still has more to offer
A National Pharmacy Association (NPA) spokesperson said: 'It’s great that the NHS is now very consistently highlighting community pharmacy’s role in preventing ill health.
'The plan acknowledges community pharmacy’s vital position in urgent care and health improvement, but medicines optimisation is only explicitly considered in relation to pharmacists in other settings.
'Local pharmacies are the most frequently visited of all settings where NHS care is delivered. Only by mobilising the entire health care workforce, including community pharmacists and their teams, can there be any prospect of addressing the NHS’s chronic capacity challenges on a sustainable basis.'