There has been much talk in recent years about workforce and workforce planning to enhance the provision of current and future healthcare roles. Pharmacy is no exception.
Lord Darzi’s report – ‘High quality care for all’, published in 2008 – was the first document to mention multi-professional integrated working and planning to achieve the overall aim of patient care. This was echoed and supported by the Francis and Berwick reports in 2013, as well as the NHS ‘Five year forward view’ in 2014. Francis focused on a need for strong attention to education and training and the need to integrate essential shared values, with Berwick saying that patient safety should play a part in the initial and lifelong learning of healthcare professionals.
The 2015 document from Higher Education England (HEE), ‘Investing in people and healthcare’, is the current document driving workforce planning in the NHS. The modernising pharmacy careers discussion kicked off in 2012 with a need for clinical and professional leadership from pharmacists. This recognised the need for ongoing education post registration. In the same year, the International Pharmaceutical Federation global pharmacy workforce report was released. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) issued its ‘Transforming the pharmacy workforce — the RPS vision for Great Britain’ document in 2015. The General Pharmaceutical Council also recognises the importance of workforce planning, as was apparent in its education conference held in November 2015.
It is clear there are multiple documents and shapers discussing the need for integrated planning and education. However, there appears to be no mechanism in place to achieve this. So how can pharmacy lead the way? This is particularly critical because pharmacists are taking up new roles in accident and emergency departments and GP surgeries. Emerging research by the authors shows there is an appetite for learning with other healthcare professionals and as larger pharmacy teams.
Many forms of education are available to pharmacists, both locally and nationally, through multiple providers. Varied formats for learning also exist, so learning can be tailored to individual learning style and personal commitments. Common barriers for taking part in education are time and access. New models of training and preferences are currently being explored to optimise learning opportunities. Clear and blended structured ongoing development strategies need to be implemented as essential enablers for pharmacists to embrace the new roles available. These strategies need to be holistic, across the multiple providers to reduce variance and duplication. Such development pathways are vital for the future success of the workforce.
Ricarda Micallef, senior lecturer
Reem Kayyali, associate professor
School of Pharmacy and Chemistry