PSNC: Pharmacists must figure in NHS workforce strategy

Give community pharmacies a greater role in relieving workforce pressures in the English healthcare system, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has urged policy makers in the wake of a new King’s Fund report.

The King’s Fund’s Make or break report looks at the scale of workforce challenges and considers how they might affect care provision over the next 10 years. It finds that across NHS trusts there is a shortage of over 100,000 staff and that this could climb to almost 250,000 by 2030, leading to a deterioration in care quality and longer NHS waiting lists.

Contributing factors include funding cuts, poor workforce planning and “restrictive immigration policies exacerbated by Brexit,” the King’s Fund says.

The report calls for a detailed strategy to address these issues, saying this must form part of the soon-to-be-published NHS long term plan. This workforce strategy must address shortages in the long and short term and support new ways of working, the King’s Fund says, as well as addressing race and gender inequalities and “strengthen workforce and service planning at all levels of the system.”

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said: “We agree that HM Government and NHS leaders need to address the mounting challenges facing the NHS workforce, however the network of over 11,600 community pharmacies are ideally placed to assist. As pressure on the NHS workforce increases, it is more important than ever that we make best use of community pharmacies.

“There is much more that they could do to help keep people healthy and out of hospitals, in particular by caring for people with long-term conditions, being the first port of call for healthcare advice and acting as health and wellbeing hubs.”

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