Workforce and education

Continuous professional development

The development of the pharmacy workforce is important area for the future of the profession.

Workforce development concentrates on the skills, knowledge, values and behaviours that are needed by the workforce to deliver services now and in the future as well as considering how these will be resourced. High quality education and training is fundamental to developing a capable workforce for delivering safe and effective pharmacy services for patients.

Effective workforce planning anticipates imbalances between supply and demand for different skills in time for action to be taken. The terms workforce planning and workforce development are often used interchangeably and work at local, regional and national levels. A pharmacist acting as a pre-registration trainee pharmacist tutor is developing the pharmacy workforce. A pharmacy department or business thinking about the number of staff it has in its establishment (including the roles and skill mix) now and in the future is undertaking workforce planning. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is well placed to provide an authoritative voice for the pharmacy workforce to support workforce planning and workforce development for the profession.

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Workforce development and pharmacy education

An evolving healthcare workforce is one that can adapt its core roles and responsibilities to meet the new and emerging needs of patients and the public. For pharmacy, this means providing  support to develop pharmacists across all sectors to meet the changing demography and healthcare needs of an ageing population with increasingly complex medicine regimens within a cost constrained healthcare system. The pharmacy workforce needs to grow in clinical capability, generalist and specialist skills development and most importantly, the flexibility to adapt to changing patient and health system need. Therefore the RPS advocates a needs based approach to workforce education and development.

A workforce development approach based on patients’ needs fits with the healthcare policies which set out a vision for the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales. There is a focus on disease prevention, new, flexible models of service tailored to local populations and needs; integration between services and consistent leadership across the health and care system. Once services are defined, the workforce required to deliver the services is adapted, flexed or developed to deliver the service. A workforce that can contribute to the public’s health and deliver pharmaceutical care will be integral to delivering these services, that is, a holistic, patient-focused approach to getting the best from investment in and use of medicines that requires, an enhanced level of patient centred professionalism, and partnership between clinical professionals and a patient.

Reform of pharmacy education and training

The RPS has been supporting workforce development of pharmacists since 2010.  Key to this has been its mechanisms to support, recognise and develop pharmacists – particularly the Foundation Programme and Faculty. Leading with authority, the RPS has created and implementing standards that support and share best practice, as well as supported and developed those aspiring to best practice, whilst ensuring safety for patients and the public.

The RPS will work with and influence policy makers on the reform of the education and training for pharmacists to improve care and outcomes for patients. As various models of care will emerge, it is not the RPS’s place or appropriate to articulate skill mix levels or numbers of pharmacy staff for services. Patients’ needs are better served by moulding a pharmacy workforce to achieving positive patient outcomes. The potential of our profession will be realised through the RPS’s vision for the pharmacy workforce that is currently being developed and members will be asked for input.