Pharmacy leads responsible for an area that covers 1.5 million people have warned that “urgent action” to increase pharmacy training funds is needed if the pharmacy workforce is to deliver on the ‘NHS long-term plan’.
The warning is made in an internal report prepared by pharmacy leads at South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (ICS) for its local workforce action board, and seen by The Pharmaceutical Journal.
The report, ‘Development of the future pharmacy workforce in the context of the NHS long-term plan’, says that while the pharmacy workforce is “committed to supporting the aims of the NHS long-term plan”, without extra funding there is a “significant risk of having inadequate numbers of appropriately qualified and trained pharmacy staff to support [its] aspirations”.
It highlights what it says are two risks of failure to invest sufficiently in pharmacy education and training: the vision of the NHS’s plan may not be delivered, and sectors within pharmacy could be destabilised if experienced staff migrate to other sectors without being backfilled.
Between 150 and 200 additional pharmacist posts could be needed to support primary care networks across the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw region, it adds, warning that the expansion of these roles at band 7 “heightens the risk of depletion in the gap that is left behind at band 6, as well as band 7 posts in other sectors (primarily hospital)”.
The ICS’s report claims that Health Education England (HEE) does not currently provide sufficient funding for preregistration trainee pharmacy technicians, preregistration pharmacists, postgraduate clinical pharmacy training or pharmacist non-medical prescriber training.
Damian Child, chief pharmacist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “At my trust, we’re facing a funding shortfall, compared to our workforce plan, of seven preregistration technician training places, four preregistration pharmacist places, two non-medical prescriber training places and one postgraduate clinical pharmacy diploma training place.”
In January 2019, HEE proposed to cut funding for hospital preregistration training, meaning that hospital trusts would receive only 75% of the cost of preregistration pharmacists’ salaries. But, one month later, HEE announced that the proposals were being paused for a year, to allow it to allow a better assessment of its potential impact on training and the future pharmacy workforce.
The ICS’s report says that hospitals “will require significant investment to meet anticipated future demand for staff”.
“More pharmacists are filling hospital pharmacy roles as the service expands: it’s just that our training places have not kept up with this growing demand,” Child said.
In a statement, HEE said: “Health Education England is working with pharmacy leaders and ICS leads to look at the potential challenges raised and find solutions to ensure we have the pharmacy workforce required to meet the needs of a 21st century health service.”