Stronger infrastructure, including a UK-wide pharmacy foundation programme, is needed to support the transformation of the pharmacy workforce, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said in response to Health Education England’s consultation on its strategy for the future NHS workforce in England.
‘Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future: a Draft Health and Care Workforce Strategy for England to 2027’ looked at vacancies, workforce supply and retention planning for all professions across the NHS, including pharmacy.
In its response to the consultation, the RPS, although broadly supportive, said the document was too focused on the short term and on transforming relatively small numbers of the workforce.
The RPS, therefore, called for a medium- to long-term workforce strategy and suggested that a robust set of workforce development goals, similar to those created by the World Health Organization, would be “a good starting point” for addressing current and future challenges for the healthcare workforce.
“While many of the ambitions stated in the draft document are laudable, they do not currently equate to a strategy,” the RPS stated in its response, adding that the proposals needed to take into account new and enhanced roles for pharmacists, and the increased use of technology for delivering services.
The RPS said it supported the concept of a credentialing process that acts as a workforce incentive to develop the broad scope of advanced competencies necessary for the delivery of high-quality patient care, with the goal to improve patient safety, referring specifically to the RPS Faculty programme.
“The RPS Faculty’s professional development programme provides a series of credentialing milestones throughout a practitioner’s career beyond Foundation Training — clear direction is given on how practitioners can continuously demonstrate maintenance at a stage of practice, or continue to advance to the next milestone,” the RPS response said. It added that a stronger infrastructure was needed to support the transformation of the pharmacy workforce, and recommended the implementation of a UK-wide pharmacy foundation programme. This would provide a uniform and consistent scheme of continuous assessment, and give assurance of foundation pharmacist trainees’ workplace competence and capability to practise.
The Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) in its response to the consultation said that a structured foundation practice, fully commissioned and funded, would be needed to ensure the development of the pharmacy technician workforce “now and in the future”.
It said that there should be a clear developmental pathway for pharmacy technicians, from initial education through to foundation and advanced practice. APTUK also said that pharmacy technicians could benefit from the expansion of inter- and intra-professional learning, and working with other professions, such as nurses and pharmacists, to benefit patient care.
It acknowledged advancements in genomics and said that pharmacy technicians, like pharmacists, will need upskilling to “embrace genomic therapies linked to their medicines optimisation roles and as gatekeepers of medicines and patient safety”.