The Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey has today been published by NHS England.
The mandated survey for 2022 intends to build a picture of the community pharmacy workforce, while developing and strengthening the information available. This year’s survey was completed by 95% of pharmacy contractors, a huge increase on last year’s 47%.
The survey provides a snapshot of the community pharmacy workforce in autumn 2022, when community pharmacy contractors submitted information on their workforce in response to an England-wide survey.
The data is intended to support decisions about where the community pharmacy workforce can contribute to supporting NHS clinical service expansion - and ensure education reforms for the pharmacist and pharmacy technician professions enable patients to receive a wider range of services from their trusted community pharmacies.
The data published today reflects the landscape in autumn 2022. The key findings are:
- The number of pharmacists remains almost constant (compared to 2021 data).
- The number of pharmacy technicians indicates a reduction (compared to 2021 data).
- Locum pharmacists are being used more as part of the staffing model, reflecting a change in working patterns in community pharmacy. The data also identified that locum pharmacists are working fewer hours on average.
- There is a 37% increase in the reported number of Independent Prescribers.
- There is a slight growth in the number of pharmacy technicians working as accuracy checkers, indicating a potential shift in skill mix.
- The reported numbers for the total workforce (Full-Time Equivalents) has reduced 6% in total (from 2021)
- For all roles there is an increase in the vacancy rate. The rates are: 20% for pharmacy technicians, 16% for pharmacists and 9% for dispensing assistants.
- There is an increasing number of trainee dispensing assistants and medicines counter assistants, with the reported number of foundation pharmacists and pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians indicating a reduction.
The factors influencing workforce trends are complex and beyond the scope of this survey. However, the insight provided by the 2022 survey is helping NHS England, employers and stakeholders to inform future investment in education and training, and effective workforce planning, across all sectors of pharmacy.
This includes investment in pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians (PTPT) in community pharmacy as part of the England-wide PTPT Workforce Expansion Programme, preparing community pharmacists to undertake independent prescribing, and upskilling pharmacy technicians to support NHS clinical service expansion.
This data is also informing NHS England’s ongoing review of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) - which enables primary care networks to claim reimbursement for salaries of roles including clinical pharmacists and pharmacy technicians - and proposals for supporting the development of multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) in primary care from 2024/25 onwards.
The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan includes expanding training places for pharmacists by 29% to around 4,300 by 2028/29, and increasing training places by around half overall to almost 5,000 by 2031/32. The number of pharmacy technicians will also grow in future years.
In addition to this significant expansion, the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan also notes the need for growth in primary care MDT roles to be sustainable and recognises the training aspect of working in a new role.
Alan Ryan, National Director of Education at NHS England, said: “Healthcare systems require high quality and transparent workforce data to plan and deliver safe care, improve patient outcomes, and inform staff training and development. Following the publication of the first ever NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, the findings of the Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey are more important than ever.
“The new requirement for a mandatory survey recognises the priority the NHS places on the community pharmacy workforce, and the importance of collecting consistent, accurate data to support effective workforce planning across primary care.
“A wide range of work is being carried out by NHS England to develop the pharmacy professionals and the wider team members across all sectors of pharmacy. These emerging annual data sets will not only inform that work but will also help employers and workforce leads in Integrated Care Boards to build a picture of the whole pharmacy workforce in their locality.”
More information on a £15.9m, three-year programme of education and training to support clinical service expansion in community pharmacy can be found on the Pharmacy Integration Programme website.
The survey findings are available on the Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey website.