This week (4 June) the NHS published its Interim People Plan, setting out the agenda for the healthcare workforce in the year ahead as it seeks to fulfil the ambitions of its Long-Term Plan.

Alongside the plan, a separate document outlining the ‘future pharmacy workforce’ and an accompanying briefing have provided more details on what this will look like for the pharmacy sector specifically.

Highlights include a focus on support and training for the workforce, as well as new leadership opportunities and a chance to showcase what pharmacy has to offer.

Here’s our pick of the main things you need to know:


New training will be on offer for contractors 

As well as the central role so- called ‘clinical’ pharmacists will play in the new primary care networks (PCNs), the Interim People Plan commits to ‘upskilling’ community pharmacists and giving them ‘more freedom’ to deliver clinical care by encouraging pharmacy technicians to ‘operate at the top of their licence’.

Contractors can expect new training to build on the prevention and minor ailments services they already provide, while all newly-registered pharmacists will undertake a common cross-sector foundation programme.

This aims to encourage more integrated care and flexibility for pharmacists to work across sectors by giving them experience across primary, community and secondary care.


A new leadership role will be open to contractors

We already know that clinical pharmacists in PCNs have the opportunity to lead networks and that at least one has already stepped up to the plate, but now contractors are being given the chance to lead, too.

NHS England and Improvement will pilot the appointment of ‘senior and experienced’ NHS pharmacists as clinical directors of pharmacy and medicines within Integrated Care Systems (ICS) during 2019/20. The idea is that they will enhance medicines optimisation and oversee NHS-funded pharmacy services as well as the ‘development and deployment’ of clinical pharmacy staff.


Pharmacy is getting a PR makeover

The plan also sets out the ambition to make the pharmacy sector more attractive as a place to work by ‘strengthening the image and reputation of pharmacy teams’.

It’s clear that all branches of the sector’s workforce have their part to play. Pharmacists in general practice will be fully-embedded in PCNs, contractors in the community will see an increased clinical role and will also join PCNs, and hospital pharmacists will be integrated more closely with primary care.

Good news – the NHS is looking to pharmacy to play an ‘integral role’ in delivering its new models of care, and it looks like community pharmacy may get its chance to shine after all.