The number of pharmacists recorded as working full time in primary care networks rose by 17.9 per cent between March and June this year, according to NHS data published today (August 19).
NHS Digital’s sixth PCN workforce update, which provides a snapshot of the workforce as of June 30, shows there were 2,275 pharmacists employed on a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis, up from 1,929 at the end of March.
The data points to a rapid rise in the PCN pharmacist workforce since the first PCNs were established in July 2019, and particularly in the last 12 months with the latest figures indicating a more than threefold rise in FTE pharmacists since June 2020.
PCNs in the Midlands region reported having the highest number of pharmacists at 567, followed by London at 391. At 162, the South West Region had the least.
The number of FTE pharmacy technicians rose by 30 per cent during the same three-month period, from 373 to 489.
Earlier this month, Pharmacy Magazine published survey data revealing that up to a half of community pharmacists would consider an alternative career in general practice or primary care networks.
Reduced workload and better work-life balance ranked highest on the list of factors that could persuade a community pharmacist to change sector in PM's survey, followed by more opportunities to use clinical skills and better pay.
Most PCN staff positions are paid for by the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), which funds 70 per cent of the ongoing salary costs for these posts. ARRS funding is increasing each year from a baseline of £110m in 2019-20 to £891m in 2023-24.
Recording of PCN employment data has improved but there are still gaps with some PCNs not reporting their staff headcounts to the NHS, meaning the official workforce update may be incomplete.