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Care of older people

NHS England fails to fill 240 pharmacy posts in care homes by March 2019 deadline

An older person's bedside

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NHS England has filled just 203 of the 240 care home pharmacy posts it was aiming to recruit by March 2019

NHS England has recruited just over 200 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to work in care homes, despite suggesting that 240 roles would be filled by March 2019.

In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal, NHS England said that the 203 recruits to the NHS’s Medicines Optimisation in Care Homes (MOCH) scheme have not all started in their posts, with different areas recruiting at different rates.

NHS England announced in February 2018 that it would be recruiting 240 pharmacy professionals — 180 pharmacists and 60 pharmacy technicians — into care homes, using £20m from the NHS Pharmacy Integration Fund. And, in July 2018, Wasim Baqir, national pharmacy lead on care homes for NHS England, wrote in a blog on the NHS England website that it was “anticipated” that the 240 extra staff would start their new roles in October 2018.

In October 2018, Baqir told The Pharmaceutical Journal that he expected all the new positions to be filled by March 2019.

This comes as NHS England announced on 10 May 2019 that it had recruited “an army of experts” to help prevent over-medication of care home residents. NHS England said it had put 200 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians into care homes, in what it has since confirmed is the same £20m scheme that was first announced February 2018.

NHS England reiterated to The Pharmaceutical Journal that the Pharmacy Integration Fund is continuing to invest £20m in the MOCH scheme to fund the additional 180 pharmacists and 60 pharmacy technicians over two years from March 2018. 

It added that pharmacists on the scheme undergo an 18-month training programme led by Health Education England, which includes training to enable them to become an independent prescriber.

The MOCH scheme is expected to end in March 2020, with pharmacists involved in the programme subsequently funded through primary care networks.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206523

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