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Primary care

Pharmacists working in general practice increase by more than 40% in one year

The number of pharmacists working in general practice has increased by 41% in the year between September 2018 and September 2019, figures from NHS Digital have shown.

The figures, published on 28 November 2019, show that as of September 2019 there were 1,833 pharmacists working in general practice, compared to 1,304 the year before.

This rise in the pharmacist headcount is equivalent to an increase of 342 full-time pharmacists in general practice – a 38% year-on-year increase.

The data also show that 343 pharmacists have been hired since March 2019, when NHS England set the baseline for which funding for additional pharmacists in primary care networks (PCNs) would be determined.

In the GP contract, published in January 2019, NHS England announced that each of England’s 1,259 PCNs are expected to have one pharmacist on staff by the end of 2019/2020, in addition to its March 2019 baseline.

NHS Digital’s data was published on the same day as a report on the NHS workforce by the Health Foundation which highlighted an approximate 50% growth in the number of registered pharmacists in England per 1,000 people – working in and outside of the NHS – between 2002 and 2017.

According to the report, this growth is “the second highest of EU-15 countries” behind Portugal, which saw an increase of more than 100%.

Overall, the report noted that non-GP clinical staff, such as pharmacists, are playing a greater role in the delivery of care as the number of GPs in the workforce continues to decline.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207405

Readers' comments (1)

  • Whilst its great to see more pharmacist representation in GP land. Many talented, young and eager pharmacists will be put off applying by the low remuneration levels that have been advertised. In general GPs do not recognise just how much pressure pharmacists can take off their workload.

    The PCN model of a shared resource of a pharmacist split between the various practices in the network, appears interesting in theory. However from a job satisfaction perspective, the pharmacist's role is so thinly split between each practice that it leaves them feeling like they do not belong in any practice. They also have no opportunities to build relationships with colleagues and with patients.

    I think the powers that be at NHSE have the right intentions to address the skills shortages in general practice, but they are quite selling the pharmacists short. It does not bode well for job satisfaction.

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