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End ARRS recruitment, Morrison says ahead of NHS workforce plan


End ARRS recruitment, Morrison says ahead of NHS workforce plan

By Neil Trainis

Community Pharmacy England’s chief executive Janet Morrison has pleaded with the government to end the recruitment of pharmacists into GP practices via the additional roles reimbursement scheme and warned its impending NHS workforce plan must address staff shortages in community pharmacy.

Shortly after the General Medical Council issued a stark warning on Friday about the need for “urgent action” to end the “vicious cycle of unmanageable workloads, dissatisfaction and burnout” that it maintained has caused doctors across the UK to quit, Morrison (pictured) felt moved to issue her own strongly-worded statement.

She said a report by the GMC that accompanied its statement showing the number of doctors working beyond their rostered hours on a weekly basis increased from 59 per cent in 2021 to 70 per cent last year, with 42 per cent saying they felt unable to cope with their workload each week, “was another clear signal of the scale of the mounting NHS workforce crisis.”

But Morrison reminded the government that staffing problems were also hitting “overstretched” community pharmacies and warned Number 10 that if it failed to support pharmacy, it would ultimately fail to “protect patient safety.”

“Pharmacy teams are overstretched, feeling immense pressures, and dealing with significantly increased workloads. Pharmacy owners are also finding it impossible to make ends meet, not least given the rising staffing costs which are being driven up by workforce issues,” she said.

“Pharmacies are feeling the knock-on effect from the crisis as more people than ever are turning to pharmacies for help as they struggle to access general practice.”

The prime minister Rishi Sunak yesterday promised to unveil a plan that would see the NHS undergo the “largest expansion in training and workforce” since its creation in 1948, although he cautioned it could take “five, 10, 15 years for these things to come through.”

There has been speculation that the plan will include funding for NHS Trusts to run five-year apprentice-doctor roles to fill workforce gaps while existing apprenticeships for nurses could also be expanded.

However, despite repeated warnings and pleadings from community pharmacy over staff shortages and the problems caused by the ARRS to the sector’s workforce, there has been very little mention that pharmacies may benefit from Sunak’s plan which is expected to be published next week.

“The workforce issues are urgent. We need to avoid catastrophe, safeguard the wellbeing of people working in primary care and ultimately protect patient safety,” Morrison said.

“The upcoming NHS workforce plan must start to address this issue and come alongside an end to the recruitment of pharmacists into the ARRS scheme.”


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