Workforce: Improving capacity and culture

The pharmacy workforce is under significant pressure in every sector across Great Britain. The reasons for this are multifactorial, and consequently there is no simple solution.

This position statement aims to be a catalyst for immediate change that will ensure long term benefit to the workforce and patient care.

This work has been informed by RPS boards members, expert advisory groups, and the wider RPS membership as well as external stakeholders. The document sets out actions to improve capacity, and culture for the profession.

Actions to improve capacity

  1. Prioritise the work that must be done
    All three Governments should work with NHS organisations, pharmacy contractors and pharmacy teams to define the essential core roles and responsibility that must be delivered across all sectors of pharmacy to ensure a consistent level of service for the public
  2. Undertake effective workforce planning
    This must include collating transparent data around current roles and services which make up current workforce activity. Data should include workforce establishment, vacancy rates/ turnover broken down by grades/roles, sector and geography. These data are required in order to provide the bigger picture alongside further information such as reasons for leaving roles, age profiles and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion metrics. These data, alongside specific country ambitions, should be used to inform future workforce models and what workforce will be required to deliver it
  3. Smarter ways of working
    A joined-up approach across pharmacy sectors, for example to support transfer of care across sectors, should be taken. Consideration must be given to maximising planned activity, reviewing current barriers to modernising practice, and accelerating the use of digital tools to augment and automate processes
  4. Invest in the pharmacy workforce
    Investment is needed to train new pharmacy staff and upskill existing members of the team, matching skills to tasks. Career pathways, supported by credentialing, should continue to be developed and adopted to make all roles more attractive and rewarding, allowing all staff to develop and work to the top of their competence and ability
  5. Improve pharmacists’ access to patient information
    Introducing a shared electronic patient medication record, accessible across all sectors, will reduce the technical aspect of medicines reconciliation saving significant time and improving safety for patients
  6. Improve multidisciplinary team working
    Pharmacy team must be better integrated with multidisciplinary teams to ensure pharmacy has a positive impact on the wider workforce issues in healthcare. All professions must be utilised in the best way for patients, reducing replication and improving patient pathways.

Actions to improve culture

  1. Ensure protected time for rest breaks and learning
    Workforce planning must include time for appropriate rest breaks, both for the welfare of pharmacists and for patient safety. With increased clinical roles, pharmacists must have dedicated protected learning time within working hours
  2. Support flexible working and portfolio careers
    Pharmacy teams must be supported to enable them to benefit from flexible working and portfolio career options.  Enabling pharmacists to work in different settings allows access to pharmacists with the right skills at the right time regardless of setting
  3. Improve access to wellbeing services
    Governments across the nations must continue to ensure that pharmacy teams have access to national wellbeing and occupational health support. Employers must offer support and encourage employees to access it
  4. Widening access to pharmacy roles
    Consider how to make pharmacy roles more accessible, ensuring a strong and diverse pipeline to better reflect the communities we serve. This work must include all roles within the pharmacy team, ensuring a strong skill mix for future service provision. Options should be explored as to how people with science or other health professional degrees may be fast-tracked into pharmacy roles.
  5. Improve public understanding of pharmacy
    Supporting both the public and other health professionals to better understand the roles of pharmacy teams and to manage public expectations of pharmacy services could reduce pressures on pharmacy teams
  6. Fostering leadership and embedding career pathways
    Clear competency-based career pathways for post-registration professional development aligned to the RPS curricula for foundation, advanced and consultant credentialing should be introduced to support pharmacists’ development and professional leadership for all.

Position statement published by:

Royal Pharmaceutical Society
December 2021