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Delivering a more responsive pharmacy workforce


As outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan, the NHS should make more appropriate use of pharmacy professionals’ clinical skills, helping patients get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

Our work aims to deliver a more responsive pharmacy workforce, equipped with the skills to deliver a clinical service across all care settings, and adapted to new ways of working.

Our work currently includes:

Community pharmacy services are expected to transform, as new clinical pharmacy services, working practices and digital platforms develop to meet the public’s expectations for a modern NHS community pharmacy service. 

In 2017, we commissioned the first Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey across England to better understand the numbers and skills mix in the community pharmacy workforce and to inform planning and future investment in education. The accompanying survey report is also available at the bottom of this page.  

We are repeating this survey in 2021 and working towards a yearly data collection from 2022.  

This process is set to gather a meaningful dataset across the NHS in England to: 

- Inform the future planning and system investment decisions in relation to the community pharmacy workforce.  

- Better understand the make-up of the community pharmacy workforce, to enable delivery of our plans for inclusive pharmacy practice.  

- Help to raise the visibility of community pharmacy as a vital part of primary care. 

We are working collaboratively with community pharmacy employers and key stakeholders to deliver the Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey 2021 over spring and summer and aim to publish the findings in autumn 2021.  

One in four adults and one in ten children experience mental health problems and many more of us know and care for people who do. Awareness of and attitudes to mental health are slowly changing.  There is now more awareness generally about the importance of everyone maintaining good mental health and providing person-centered support that allows people with problems to live well in the community.

Good physical health and good mental health are linked. There remains an urgent need to improve the physical health and healthcare of people with mental health problems. People with severe and prolonged mental health problems are at risk of dying on average 15 to 20 years earlier than the general population. Conversely, changes to physical health can lead to poor mental health.

The development of this framework of core mental health competencies for all pharmacy professions was started before the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision to fast-track its publication was taken because of the importance of supporting people and colleagues with their mental health in a period that is challenging for everyone.  Please read the pharmacy extended roles report.

Please share this document with your networks. If you have any questions regarding this framework please contact mentalhealth@hee.nhs.uk

Pharmacy for mental health

Read how better use of pharmacy staff to support patients and clinical staff adds tremendous value to NHS mental health services. Read Anita Solanki's blog. She is HEE’s Mental Health Training Programme Director, North School of Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation. 

Read more about new roles in mental health pharmacy

Our review of pharmacy technician and pharmacist education and training considers what training structures and funding models will best support a pharmacy workforce that can meet future patient need.

Find out more.

Pharmacists, pre-registration pharmacists and pharmacy technicians need the knowledge, clinical skills and behaviours required to provide more person-centred care.

We are working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, NHS England and NHS Improvement and other partners and stakeholders to deliver new, innovative training and development opportunities.

Find out more. 

This joint plan outlines activities to help us all work towards our patient-facing aim:

To work collaboratively to develop and embed inclusive pharmacy professional practice into everyday care for patients and members of the public, to support the prevention of ill-health and address health inequalities within our diverse communities.

Co-produced with a wide range of partners from across national organisations in the pharmacy sector, this new national plan for inclusive pharmacy practice is intended to help us make the most of the benefits of our workforce’s diversity, for improved and better healthcare provision.

The plan sets out immediate and minimum actions for pharmacy professional leaders at all levels and in all care settings to consider, including developing their understanding of the benefits of diverse teams and culturally competent healthcare service delivery; and ensuring the voices of colleagues from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background are represented and heard in decision-making forums at all levels.

The plan and covering letter have been published on the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK websites.

As part of its aim to deliver more a responsive pharmacy workforce equipped with the skills to deliver a clinical service across all care settings and adapt to new ways of working, we are working to enhance current pre-registration pharmacist training, creating an education system which is sustainable to meet future patient needs.

Our work on training for pre-registration pharmacists starts with developing more appropriate systems of recruitment and selection, and leads onto enhanced workplace support for the tutor and pre-registration pharmacist.

It is therefore essential that pre-registration pharmacist recruitment and selection is reliable, valid, acceptable, feasible, cost effective, fair and has a positive impact on education, training and quality. A new national recruitment scheme for pre-registration pharmacists was introduced in 2017, aligning with the process used for recruiting other healthcare professionals across the NHS.

The scheme is used to recruit all hospital posts and the majority of community pharmacy posts. Selection is founded on evidence-based methods to ensure that pre-registration pharmacists employed to provide NHS services possess the values required to work within the NHS. 

Find out more.