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Strikes, QIPP, job uncertainty. What next?

By Kate Towers

It seems like the theme of this year has been cuts. For NHS pharmacists these are being felt personally and professionally (pay freezes, pension proposals and the on-call debacle spring to mind).

By the time you read this some of you will have joined the industrial action over planned pension reforms. As we went to press, it remained to be seen whether or not the strikes prompted a change in the Government’s position. Either way, it will have added to the considerable uncertainty in the NHS.

The major changes proposed for the NHS?in England were acknowledged by the authors of this year’s national NHS pharmacy staffing establishment and vacancy survey, who warn that the development of pharmacy services should not be allowed to suffer as a result. This year’s figures are not as bleak as some might have expected — the survey’s facilitator even described them as heartening (update, p355). For example, established posts fell by only 0.1% in England (equivalent to about seven full-time posts).

Despite this apparent optimism, it is concerning that some 121 posts across England and Wales are considered to be at risk. It is also worth bearing in mind that these figures cover the period from May 2010 to May 2011, so the next few years’ results could show a rather different picture considering the challenges ahead.  

Whatever the staffing situation, pharmacy departments are having to push ahead with the QIPP agenda, which is all about cutting costs, right? Not according to speakers at the United Kingdom Clinical Pharmacy Association’s autumn symposium. They pointed out that, if departments only focus on making cuts, the QIPP vision will not be realised (news feature, p356).     

Thinking about what QIPP stands for, we hope that NHS managers turn to pharmacy teams for inspiration rather than as a place to make easy savings.

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist URI: 11090781

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