CPS calls for temporary halt to GP pharmacy recruitment

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has today called for a temporary stop to the recruitment of pharmacy workforce to GP primary care support roles.

In a statement released today Director of Operations Matt Barclay said:

“Over the last 3 to 4 years almost 600 whole-time equivalent (WTE) pharmacists and 300 WTE pharmacist technicians have been employed to support the pharmacotherapy element of the GP contract.

“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. These roles are critical to even the most basic functions of our 1258-strong network of pharmacy teams.

“The CPS Board takes recent workforce challenges seriously and is considering the strategic options in addressing the situation. However, we would argue that alongside natural movement away from the sector this level of workforce drain is unsustainable.

“To be clear, we believe that anywhere that decisions about medicines are being made, Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician input is of benefit to patients. 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 yet the recently published Memorandum of Understanding in July 2021 alongside the NHS Recovery plan indicates there is no sign of slowing the progress in the pharmacotherapy element of the GMS contract for at least the next two years.

“The community pharmacy network is absolutely committed to the NHS Recovery plan. However, the current approach to recruitment will ultimately be detrimental to the joint ScotGov/CPS ambitions for the community pharmacy network which are outlined in the Recovery plan and Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care.

“With that in mind, we also call on political decision-makers, healthcare partners and Health Board colleagues to be prepared to support the community pharmacy network in other ways to allow them to continue to support patients in their vital role in the heart of communities. Calls for appropriate workforce planning should be happening as a minimum at this time, with priority placed on roles that are critical to patient wellbeing and timely access to services.

“There are many challenges facing the NHS at this time and the community pharmacy network is no different. The network also needs to recover and support teams after what has been a challenging time where they have shown tremendous commitment, fortitude and resilience. Without a change in policy, the unnecessary strain being placed on teams in the coming months and years through this ongoing recruitment will undoubtedly worsen. 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.”

Director of the Pharmacist Defence Association commented:

“Attempting to restrict pharmacists’ career options, so that individuals don’t have alternative opportunities is not the right way to recruit and retain more employed pharmacists in the community pharmacy workforce.  

“Community pharmacy employers should focus on improving the attractiveness of the jobs they offer instead.  Improving the balance between the focus on patient care and safety vs.

“Profit; levels of remuneration and workplace pressure; and the level of respect for the pharmacist as a clinical health professional are each example of factors that are well within the control of employers”


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