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Rowlands chief tells Barclay to stop dithering on pharmacy workforce

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Rowlands chief tells Barclay to stop dithering on pharmacy workforce

By Neil Trainis

Rowlands Pharmacy superintendent pharmacist Stephen Thomas has told the health secretary Stephen Barclay to stop “dithering” and address workforce pressures in community pharmacy now he has evidence the problem is largely being caused by primary care networks’ recruitment of pharmacists.

Thomas (pictured) urged the government to produce a workforce strategy that encompasses pharmacy in community, general practice and hospital as well as cross-sector career pathways that give future pharmacists experiences of working in all three sectors.

But he warned PCNs were “poaching from community pharmacy” and insisted it was “a zero-sum game adding nothing to improving patient care.”

His remarks came just days after publication of a report commissioned by Barclay and compiled by the former Labour health secretary Patricia Hewitt that said the recruitment of community pharmacists to primary care roles via the additional roles reimbursement scheme “has on occasion exacerbated the problem of a general shortage of pharmacists.”

“Those of us who work in community pharmacy know there is a workforce crisis created in large measure by PCNs actively recruiting pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from our sector,” said Thomas, describing the report as “welcome if long overdue” and insisting pharmacy has been telling the government for years about the impact of general practice’s recruitment policies on its workforce, only for ministers to respond “problem? What problem?”

“Now that Steve Barclay has his own official report sitting on his desk, he and NHS England cannot continue in denial mode,” Thomas added.

“The facts are there for all to see. Time to act. No more dithering, delay or indifference. You asked if there was a problem and you have been told there is.

“Future cohorts of pharmacists should have career experiences which span community, primary and secondary roles. That would motivate and benefit them as well as improving patient care, but where is the plan to make that a reality?”

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