The funding for primary care networks to recruit pharmacists is insufficient to employ ‘appropriately experienced’ clinicians, a report by the pharmacists’ union has revealed.
Under the new contract, NHS England is providing every network with 70% of funding for a new pharmacist in a bid to recruit 7,000 pharmacists by 2023/24.
However, the new report by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) claims that networks may have to contribute more than the 30% that the contract states because NHS England has underestimated how much it costs to employ pharmacists with the requisite experience
NHS England has guaranteed to cover 70% of the costs of recruiting pharmacists to work in PCNs on total salaries of £37,810.
The PDA report, published this week (27 August), found that 71% of 500 pharmacists working in general practice in England were paid a salary equivalent to band 8a – defined as £43,042 to £49,969 – or above.
More than a quarter (27%) reported salaries at bands 8b, 8c or above – equivalent to £49,970 or more.
A PDA spokesperson said: ‘[This] contrasts with the funding provided for PCN pharmacists posts, suggesting that practices may need to consider contributing more than 30% of a band 7 salary to secure an appropriately experienced pharmacist.’
An NHS England spokesperson said: ’We recognise the skills and experience clinical pharmacists can bring to general practice and that is why we have agreed with our GPC colleagues to fund 70% of the cost of recruiting pharmacists in bands 7 to 8a up to a maximum of £37,810.
‘An extra £1.799 billion is being invested in PCNs by 2023-24, of which £891million will be available to recruit 20,000 more healthcare professionals over the next five years to support GPs, including pharmacists.’