A consultation document outlining future strategies for the NHS workforce in England has put the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) at the centre of workforce planning on pharmacy.
‘Facing the facts, shaping the future: a draft health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027’ published by Health Education England (HEE) looks at vacancies, workforce supply and retention planning for all professions across the NHS, including pharmacy.
It said it aimed to “future proof” the NHS workforce, and while it acknowledged the role of pharmacy in new models of care and workforce programmes outlined in the NHS Five-Year Forward View, there was no commitment to new strategies or funding for the sector.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society welcomed the document and said it would submit its official response in due course.
The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) also said it would be responding “in a bid for greater involvement and development of the community pharmacy sector workforce”.
NPA policy manager Helga Mangion, said: “The proposed strategy focuses on the integration fund but to date there has been very little support for community pharmacy.”
Pharmacy bodies have already raised concerns about the lack of funds made available through the PhIF and to date there has not yet been a confirmation of the fund’s budget for the 2018–2019 financial year.
Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) president Tess Fenn said she welcomed a workforce strategy that specifically included pharmacy technicians.
She said: “For pharmacy technicians, the principle concerning enabling a flexible and adaptable workforce is particularly of value. APTUK welcomes the use of the PhIF for the development of the pharmacy technician leadership and how this can contribute to the delivery of high-quality pharmacy services with patient safety at the centre.
The HEE strategy says it is “currently delivering initial PhIF priorities, which include deploying clinical pharmacists and pharmacy services in community and primary care including groups of general practices, care homes and urgent care settings such as NHS 111 and, secondly, create the environment and infrastructure to accelerate digital integration and medicines optimisation for patient-centred care”.
It also sets out plans to extend a national pre-registration pharmacist recruitment scheme and the rollout of e-portfolio access to trainee pharmacists.
It adds that there would be investment in supporting pre-registration tutors and post-registration pharmacists to ensure they have the capability and capacity to lead the research and development of medicines optimisation.
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association said it would compile feedback from members in its response to the consultation, which will run until 23 March 2018.