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PSNC: Contractors struggle with rising locum rates and workforce ‘situation’


PSNC: Contractors struggle with rising locum rates and workforce ‘situation’

By Neil Trainis

The PSNC appears to have sided with the Company Chemists’ Association in the row over locum rates and pharmacy closures by insisting contractors of all sizes are struggling to find pharmacists to work and are concerned about “rapidly-inflating locum rates.”

In recent days the CCA and Pharmacists’ Defence Association have traded blows over the reasons some multiples have closed branches. The PDA claimed some large chains have tried to force locums to lower their pre-agreed rates and cancelled their shifts having failed to do so, resulting in closures of pharmacies while the CCA said its members were contending with “a workforce crisis” which had forced some branches to close.

The PSNC, who have been in talks on year four of the five-year community pharmacy contractual framework, did not say whether the spat could potentially play into the hands of the government and NHS England given many within community pharmacy believe the sector needs to show a united front.

However, the PSNC’s chief executive Janet Morrison (pictured) told Independent Community Pharmacist that increasing locum rates coupled with anxieties over the availability of pharmacists was compounding the struggles of contractors who are already having to operate on squeezed funding. 

“We are being contacted by contractors of all sizes who are struggling with the current workforce situation in community pharmacy: independents and multiples alike are worried about both the availability of pharmacists, and about rapidly-inflating locum rates,” Ms Morrison said.

“Our financial data also shows that many pharmacy businesses cannot function sustainably on current Government and NHS funding. Patient safety is their priority, but economic realities are putting great pressure on both businesses and pharmacy teams.”

She insisted the PSNC was pushing “for sustainable funding and for a long-term workforce development plan” and said she hoped “everyone in the sector can get behind these aims.”

“Taken together, they would mean that all pharmacies can continue offering the safe and high-quality services that patients and the NHS have come to rely on, and that pharmacists and their teams can work in a financially stable and healthy workplace environment,” she said.

The National Pharmacy Association told ICP: "There are clearly workforce challenges in community pharmacy, across many areas of the country. We don’t think it would be right for us to comment directly on the accusations made by PDA and CCA in their recent public exchange.”

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