The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has opposed calls for a temporary pause in recruiting community pharmacists into general practice support roles. 

This comes just days after Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) highlighted concerns over the community pharmacy workforce numbers and increasing workforce pressures, which it attributed in part to the ‘uncoordinated recruitment’ from general practice.     

But, in a statement published yesterday (2 September), Andrew Carruthers, chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, said pharmacists should not be held back from making individual career choices and moving into general practice roles. 

‘Many pharmacists have benefited and continue to benefit from working in multiple settings, and they should be supported to make choices that support their professional development aspirations’, he said.  

He added that ‘pharmacy professionals should be involved wherever there are medicines: this includes community pharmacies, hospitals and GP practices. Ensuring patients have access to pharmacists in all settings is an important part of delivering safe and effective care’. 

Last week (25 August) NHS Scotland published its NHS Recovery Plan, in which it detailed plans to recruit more pharmacists into general practice.   

It said: ‘By April 2022, we are aiming to have Board-delivered pharmacy and nursing support in all 925 of Scotland’s general practices or direct additional support to practices where this is not the case.’ 

Mr Carruthers added that it is ‘essential’ that there be ‘meaningful and robust pharmacy workforce planning in place which takes into account all sectors, skill mix requirements, and workforce changes resulting from new services and digital improvements’.  

He said: ‘We also need better use of pharmacy teams, better skill mix and better use of technology to help reduce the wider issues and pressures that are impacting on NHS services. It is also important to promote pharmacy as a career to bring more people into the profession.’