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PDA welcomes the Pharmacy First service and calls for a second pharmacist in the pharmacy

The PDA urges contractors and NHS England to engage with the workforce to make it a success.

Wed 22nd November 2023 The PDA

The PDA welcomes an announcement that has the potential to empower community pharmacists to use more of their clinical skills and reduce the demands on GP practice. The PDA believes this could transform the role of community pharmacy and be a watershed moment for patients and pharmacists in England.

The success of this initiative will depend on how it is implemented and managed going forward. Consistent feedback from members indicates that the current workloads already make it very difficult to deliver any new services, let alone those with such scale and ambition, without a substantial increase in the community pharmacy staff infrastructure.  Bearing in mind the increased clinical nature of the services, the PDA calls for a second pharmacist to become the norm and with the additional funding that has been made available this could be achieved. A second pharmacist approach and a more clinically orientated service could attract more pharmacists into community pharmacy. This would also help to relieve some of the current recruitment and retention issues.

The PDA believes that to ensure patient safety the following needs to be in place:

  • Pharmacies must have sufficient staff, including Pharmacy Technicians, to facilitate proper skill-mix to safely undertake these new services in addition to existing workloads.
  • Pharmacies need to be open in line with their contracted hours for patients to be able to receive services where and when they need them.
  • All employed pharmacists must be enabled to undertake any training and must be given allocated time during the working day to undertake such training, or be provided with either time off in lieu or overtime if it is undertaken outside their working pattern.
  • Funding arrangements for the training of locum pharmacists must be made available.
  • Services must be provided on clinical need, not as commercial targets. Pharmacists must be free to exercise their professional judgement in providing the service.

The letter to contractors also states that for the Pharmacy Contraception Service and Blood Pressure Check.  “….it will also be possible to use the wider non-registered pharmacy team members where staff have the appropriate training and are competent to deliver the service.“  The PDA asks the NHS to provide transparent and clear standards of training and competency so as to provide the responsible pharmacists with the evidence to ensure that skill mix can work effectively and that patient safety is maintained.

If it is implemented appropriately, Pharmacy First has the potential to deliver improved patient care and opportunities for professional development.  The PDA would like to this to be a success and emphasises the need for future discussions between NHS and contractors to also include the PDA as the representative of frontline community pharmacists so that factors like those detailed above can be considered for new services at the design stage.

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