NHSE must produce research into benefits of pharmacists in practices
By Neil Trainis
Rowlands Pharmacy’s superintendent pharmacist Stephen Thomas has challenged NHS England to conduct and publish a study to prove its recruitment of pharmacists into GP practices is making the most of their skills and providing value for money, which he believes could demonstrate that some would be better employed in under-pressure community pharmacies.
In an exclusive interview to be published in next month’s Independent Community Pharmacist, Thomas (pictured) accused NHS England of refusing to acknowledge that community pharmacy is suffering from a workforce crisis which the Company Chemists’ Association, of which he is a Board member, recently said is being exacerbated by Primary Care Network recruitment and the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme.
A report by the former health secretary Patricia Hewitt, published last month following her independent review of integrated care systems, concluded the recruitment of pharmacists into PCNs through the ARRS was making the workforce shortage in community pharmacy worse.
“Recently, we saw a report from Patricia Hewitt which said there was a shortfall of pharmacists that had been driven by PCN recruitment. It’s very bizarre that NHS England came back with a statement effectively saying ‘don’t worry about it, it’s only regional differences.’ That’s not the case at all and nor is it the case of any other Company Chemists’ Association members that I’m aware of," Thomas said.
"I think NHS England has a bit of a disconnect to the situation.”
The government today released figures it said showed it had delivered on its commitment to recruit 26,000 more primary care professionals including pharmacists into GP practices. The pharmacy profession, however, has been in no mood to celebrate that milestone and Thomas urged the health secretary Stephen Barclay to talk to NHS England about helping address community pharmacy’s workforce issues now he has seen Hewitt’s report.
“Clearly, now the report from Patricia Hewitt is on the secretary of state’s desk, I think it’s incumbent on him to have a conversation with NHS England to say ‘come on, we might be taking this a bit too far now,’” Thomas said, urging NHSE to produce evidence of how beneficial it is to get significant numbers of pharmacists working in practices when they could be solving community pharmacy’s workforce problems.
“I’d love there to be some research which looks into all the people who’ve moved from whatever sector into a GP practice, what are they doing, is it giving us value for money, because I don’t believe anybody’s looked at that,” Thomas said.
“I think that would be a really interesting piece of work for NHS England to do because there could well be aspects of what PCN pharmacists and GP practice pharmacists do that could be transferred to community pharmacy and that might sit better with us anyway.
“So, there’s a real piece of work that needs to look at how that interface works with community pharmacy and the GP practice pharmacist.”
NHSE has been contacted for comment.