85% of pharmacy applicants to NHS COVID-19 vaccination team deployed to contact tracing service

Exclusive: NHS Professionals said the majority of pharmacy staff who successfully applied to join the COVID-19 vaccination team have instead been deployed to work for NHS Test and Trace.

Some 85% of pharmacy staff who applied to vaccinate patients as part of the NHS’s COVID-19 vaccination team were instead deployed to work for NHS Test and Trace.

NHS Professionals — a government-owned temporary staff bank — opened applications in November 2020 to build a team of healthcare professionals that would be supplied to COVID-19 vaccination centres as additional workforce.  

Applications were later closed in 25 March 2021 after “thousands of candidates” were recruited and deployed “to trusts, in line with demand”, NHS Professional said on its website.

Following a report by The Pharmaceutical Journal in January 2021 that 715 pharmacy staff members had applied to the join the vaccination team, NHS Professionals said on 27 April 2021 that a further “200 or so” [pharmacy] candidates had applied before applications closed.

However, they added that “the majority were deployed onto the [NHS] Test and Trace service (approx. 700) and the rest onto the national vaccination programme”.

The spokesperson confirmed that NHS Professionals have “actively deployed 136 [General Pharmaceutical Council]-registered candidates to local trusts” to vaccinate patients against COVID-19.

To join the COVID-19 vaccine team, applications could be submitted for the roles of vaccinator, registered healthcare professional (RHCP) and RHCP clinical supervisor.

A General Pharmaceutical Council registration was required for the RHCP and RHCP clinical supervisor roles. Successful applicants were provided with the necessary training and paid up to £16.04 per hour.

Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “Pharmacists and their teams are playing a key role in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to patients and have made significant contributions to the programme.

“Our profession has great expertise in delivering vaccines, and will play an important role in administering [vaccines to] remaining cohorts and supporting future phases of the vaccination programme.

“As we start to come out of lockdown, pharmacies will continue to support the effective track and trace system and work hard to help get people vaccinated and tested.”

In May 2020, NHS Professionals began recruiting clinical contact caseworkers for the NHS Test and Trace service, responsible for assessing patients with COVID-19, to help trace people who may have been in contact with them.

Caseworkers are required to be registered healthcare professionals and earn up to £17.35 per hour on weekdays.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2021, Vol 306, No 7948;306(7948)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.81615

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