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CCA: eight years of pharmacy workforce growth will disappear

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CCA: eight years of pharmacy workforce growth will disappear

The Company Chemists’ Association has warned eight years of growth in the pharmacy workforce in England will have disappeared by next year because of the government’s recruitment of pharmacists into GP surgeries.

The CCA has continuously spoken out about the impact a lack of funding, increasing patient demand and general practice’s employment of pharmacists from community pharmacy is having on the sector. However, the CCA appeared to raise the bar with the publication of its workforce analysis paper which outlined how government and NHS England policies are imperilling community pharmacies.

It claimed that since the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme was introduced in England in 2019, the equivalent of eight years of growth in the number of pharmacists “will have been funnelled directly into primary care.” 

The CCA also said: “At the current rate, we estimate that community pharmacy has experienced the equivalent of almost four fallow years.” It said that since 2019, the sector has experienced “two fallow years” during which time no new pharmacists joined the register and insisted that was directly caused by the ARRS. 

Its analysis claimed the number of “full-time equivalent direct patient care pharmacists,” including advanced practise pharmacists, working in primary care increased by 7,983 between March 2019 and December 2022, equivalent to 2,129 pharmacists a year. The CCA said 4,600 of those were recruited through the ARRS scheme.

The body said three “urgent” measures needed to be put in place. First, was commissioning community pharmacists to provide “packages of care” on behalf of GPs, instead of taking pharmacists off “accessible high street settings.”

Next, it called for an “immediate uplift of funding” so pharmacies can meet increasing costs and invest in staff. The CCA also repeated its call for a fully-funded Pharmacy First scheme in England.

Its chief executive Malcolm Harrison (pictured) said that although GP recruitment of pharmacists was “not the only factor contributing to the workforce crisis, it is undoubtedly fanning the flames.”

“The Government must act without delay on the ever-deepening community pharmacy workforce crisis,” he said, insisting “this downward spiral is creating untenable pressure on pharmacists and their teams.”

“Robbing Peter to pay Paul is short-sighted and such ‘whack-a-mole’ policies are doing more harm than good to patients.

“The Government must devise an evidence-led workforce plan for all professions across primary care, ensuring patients can access the care that they need when and where they need it.”

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