Results from The Pharmaceutical Journal’s annual salary and job satisfaction survey for 2022 suggest that nearly a quarter of pharmacists aged between 55 and 64 years are planning to retire within the next year.
This means that the profession could lose more than 1,500 pharmacists in the next 12 months.
The annual survey of pharmacists practising in Great Britain found that 67 of the 291 participants aged between 55 and 64 years (23%) answered ‘yes’ when asked whether they were planning to retire within 12 months.
With 6,687 pharmacists in that age bracket currently on the register, according to the General Pharmaceutical Council, the survey’s findings could mean that 1,540 pharmacists will choose to retire early in the coming year.
Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, said the survey results were “very concerning but not unexpected”.
“Increasingly, other parts of primary care and wider healthcare are reporting that healthcare professionals plan to retire early — and community pharmacy is no different,” he said.
“Pharmacy teams have worked tirelessly during and since the pandemic and are exhausted. Patient demand on pharmacy teams is only likely to increase due to the worsening backlog of care across the NHS in recent months.”
Harrison reiterated calls made by MPs in July 2022 for a “funded workforce plan for pharmacy”, adding that the plan “must outline how current pharmacists will be upskilled to become independent prescribers, outline opportunities for the entire pharmacy team, and identify a roadmap for future commissioned services to utilise pharmacists’ clinical skills”.
The pharmacy profession is already facing workforce concerns having been added the Home Office’s shortage occupation list in March 2021.
In January 2022, Health Education England’s Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey revealed that 8% of all full-time equivalent pharmacist posts were vacant in 2021.
Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “It is vital that we do all we can do to retain current staff.
“Pharmacy can be a really rewarding career, but pharmacists have also told us how a lack of support staff and a need for protected time for professional development can contribute to a decision to leave or stay in the profession,” she said.
“National workforce plans for pharmacy in England, Scotland and Wales are long overdue. These need to understand the future demands on the pharmacy workforce, and then be used to both recruit, train and retain sufficient pharmacists, and to continue to develop our existing highly skilled pharmacy workforce.”