The negotiating body for community pharmacies in Scotland has called for a temporary stop to the recruitment of pharmacy workers to general practice roles, warning that the current pace of hiring is “unsustainable”.
In a statement issued earlier today (August 31), Community Pharmacy Scotland’s operations director Matt Barclay said that in the past three years the sector has lost almost 600 whole-time equivalent pharmacists and 300 WTE pharmacy technicians to general practice roles.
“This workforce shift has occurred with no planning to account for the needs of hospital or community pharmacy services, with the vast majority of individuals coming from the latter,” he said.
“These roles are critical to even the most basic functions of our 1,258-strong network of pharmacy teams.”
In a recent Pharmacy Magazine survey of UK community pharmacists, 50 per cent of respondents said they were considering a move into general practice or primary care.
Mr Barclay said the CPS board is “considering the strategic options” needed to address the current workforce challenges, warning: “Alongside natural movement away from the sector, this level of workforce drain is unsustainable.
“While we appreciate this added value that our professions can bring to other areas of NHS Scotland, we believe this uncoordinated recruitment is now one of the major and enduring contributing factors to our unprecedented workforce pressures.
“There are simply not enough pharmacist and pharmacy technician hours in the country to satisfy the combined demands of all three sectors,” he said, adding that the recent NHS Recovery plan indicates there are no plans to stem the flow of pharmacists to general practice “for at least the next two years”.
Mr Barclay said that while the pharmacy network is “absolutely committed” to the recovery agenda, the current approach will be detrimental to meeting targets jointly agreed by the Scottish Government and CPS.
He called on “political decision makers, healthcare partners and health board colleagues” to support community pharmacies, insisting that workforce planning “should be happening as a minimum... with priority placed on roles that are critical to patient wellbeing and timely access to services”.
“CPS would always be interested in working with partners, within Health Boards, ScotGov and the wider primary care team, to see how we can maximise the skills of the pharmacy network but we must be part of discussions and solutions to minimize impact on patients,” he said.