I read with interest the article ‘Four ways to build a community pharmacy workforce fit for the future‘, which featured in the December 2020 issue of The Pharmaceutical Journal (Pharm J 2020;305:388–389). The piece articulated well some of the risks and issues currently facing the community pharmacy workforce. And, crucially, it called for better use of the skills and expertise of pharmacists.
It is clear that community pharmacy is well placed to support the NHS in its ongoing recovery from the pandemic. However, significant investment in the workforce will be necessary, as well as an acceptance of change from the workforce itself. As the changes to initial education and training of pharmacists — which will eventually see pharmacists qualify as prescribers on registration — are welcomed and rolled out, it is absolutely necessary that corresponding action is taken to upskill the existing workforce. Services need to be commissioned to enable pharmacy colleagues to make use of their skills.
Work must also be undertaken to make better use of the existing skills of the whole pharmacy team. The Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group — a cross-sector group that brings together representatives from the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) and the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) — has, for several years, been working behind the scenes to understand the issues affecting the community pharmacy workforce. Given the ongoing workforce need, we will be publishing a report in the coming weeks highlighting our recommendations to ensure the community pharmacy workforce is fit for now and the future.
Any community pharmacy team members who wish to find out more about this work should contact their relevant organisation (CCA, AIMp or NPA) to find out who represents them in the group. We look forward to working with stakeholders from across the sector and beyond to make these recommendations a reality.
Marc Donovan, chair of the Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group