The Conservative Party has pledged to recruit 6,000 more pharmacists, nurses and physiotherapists into general practice by 2025, the health secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

Mr Hancock committed on Saturday (9 November) to create 50 million more appointments in GP practices by 2024-25 if the Conservatives win majority Government, through the recruitment of 6,000 more doctors as well as 6,000 more non-GP staff including pharmacists, nurses and physiotherapists.

The 6,000 strong non-GP workforce are in addition to the 20,000 posts already promised as part of the GP contract in January, which includes pharmacists, social prescribing link workers, physiotherapists, paramedics, and physician associates.

The plans will be backed by £2.5bn over the four years, with £300m allocated every year to recruit the 6,000 more pharmacists, nurses and physiotherapists, he added.

The Conservative Party were unable to confirm to The Pharmacist at this stage how much of the funding would be spent on recruiting pharmacists.


Stealing staff?


Nuffield Trust director of strategy Helen Buckingham said: ‘It’s positive that the Conservatives are proposing to look to well-qualified physiotherapists, nurses and pharmacists, who are needed to help support GP practices and often provide the most appropriate care for patients in the long run.

‘[However,] we will need to be careful not to cause problems by pulling these staff from other equally important areas of the NHS, and patients might take time to get used to them.’

In July, The Pharmacist investigated why so many pharmacists are moving away from a career in the community sector and whether community pharmacy can compete with the threat of practice pharmacy.

Chief executive of The King’s Fund, Richard Murray, said: ‘These new commitments to improve capacity and access in general practice are welcome, but the success of these measures will hinge on the ability to recruit and – more importantly – retain enough GPs and professionals such as physiotherapists and pharmacists.’

In March, think tanks the King’s Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation said that increasing the number of practice pharmacists to around 4,000 over the next five years could replace the work of 1,600 GPs.