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PCN pharmacist recruitment has ‘unintended consequences’, warns Government report

PCN pharmacist recruitment has ‘unintended consequences’, warns Government report

Recruitment of clinical pharmacists to general practice is ‘compounding the problem’ of community pharmacy closures and delayed discharges from hospitals, a Government report has warned.

Earlier this week, former health secretary Patricia Hewitt’s review into the progress of integrated care systems, requested by the Government, concluded that national contracts – including the GP contract – present a a ‘significant barrier’ to local innovation.

And she went on to warn that ‘contracts with national requirements can have unintended consequences when applied to particular circumstances’.

‘For instance, the national requirements and funding of Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) roles for community pharmacists within PCNs, has on occasion exacerbated the problem of a general shortage of pharmacists, with some now preferring to work within primary care rather than remain in community pharmacies or acute hospitals, compounding the problem of community pharmacy closures and delayed discharges,’ the report said.

In her report, she recommended that NHS England and the Department of Health should ‘as soon as possible’ convene a national partnership group to develop together a new framework for primary care contracts.

Since 1 April, ICBs have been handed delegated commissioning responsibilities also for pharmaceutical, general ophthalmic and dental (POD) services, in addition to general practice.

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And, according to Ms Hewitt, this presents a ‘an opportunity’ to make better use of the existing pharmacist workforce.

‘The new responsibilities for ICBs provide an important opportunity, at place or system level, to integrate the whole primary care offer for communities, making the best use of both the staffing resource available and the premises,’ the report said.

She added: ‘Instead of each element of primary care being treated as a separate silo, ICBs now have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to work with all elements of primary care to achieve the accessible, high-quality and integrated services that residents and local communities need.’

In February, pharmacy leaders highlighted the same problem whilst criticising an NHS England ad campaign to redirect patients with minor illnesses from general practice to pharmacies.

The Hewitt Report also recommended that:

  • a review group is set up to urgently review national primary care contracts including the GMS contract;
  • centrally held buyout funds are set up, to take over GP contracts or premises where practices are ‘not delivering to a high enough standard’; and
  • for QOF to be ‘updated with a more holistic approach that allows for variation’.

A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title The Pharmacist



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Douglas Callow 5 April, 2023 4:37 pm

No shit sherlock

David Mummery 5 April, 2023 4:56 pm

Of course it does ! The whole ARRS scheme has unintended consequences, one of which is the destruction of General Practice as a medical profession

Turn out The Lights 5 April, 2023 5:27 pm

Can’t Rob Peter to pay Paul.You need to train more GPs Paramedical and nurses to staff the system.Be quick a lot will be going very quickly.Also short supply meands market rates will increase.Agency work anyone!You cannot fix the market which the Tories will find out.And whoever get in on the next election.

Anonymous 6 April, 2023 5:32 am

Ha ha ha.

David Church 6 April, 2023 10:23 am

This is rubbish. Only a couple of years ago (OK, maybe 10??) there was a huge glut of Pharmacy graduates, far in excess of numbers needed to staff Community Pharmacies, and DoH was persuaded to wedge the spare ones into GP surgeries and PCNs/LHBs to employ some of the unemplyable excess numbers. I suspect more of today’s graduates are going abroad or discovering that there are many avenues for new graduates other than the previous staples of Hospital or Community pharmacy only, whereas the big pharmacy chains are not offering best employment terms/salaries, and independents are too complicated and expensive to buy out.

David Jenner 13 April, 2023 9:22 pm

Well in my area (Devon) community pharmacists are resigning from their definitive posts to get up to £60 per hour as locums.
Shortages all round.
But please remember NHSE and BMA both confidently assured us at the start of the PCN DES the ARSS scheme was designed around detailed workforce projections .
And of course we are yet to see the NHS workforce plan !
Whole PCN DES house built on sand and rapidly subsiding in my opinion!