Pharmacy authorities warned that “pharmacies of all sizes are struggling and concerned about both pharmacist availability and rapidly rising locum rates,” in light of a new report on pharmacy staff
Both factors “may limit the ability of pharmacies to realize their full potential to both help patients and support the wider NHS,” the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) wrote in a joint statement yesterday (July 26).
Meanwhile, local advocates have hit back at this “attack” on rates, insisting that hourly wages only increase in line with inflation.
Read more: MPs push for a funded pharmacy staff plan
It follows the call from the Health and Social Care Commission to develop and submit to parliament an “integrated and funded” staffing plan for pharmacists within the next year, in a report published on Monday (July 24).
The pharmacy authorities added that they had recently written to the committee’s chair, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, about “ongoing concerns about staffing challenges, coupled with eight years of a real decline in funding, that the community pharmacy sector is experiencing”.
PDA: “Attack” Doesn’t Make Community Roles More Attractive
Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists’ Defense Association (PDA) union, told C+D that while the group wants to help make community pharmacy roles more attractive, pharmacy employers have chosen to negotiate with government without the legitimate independent voice of local authorities. and employed pharmacists. .
It is “disappointing” that “employers are now continuing with their previous claims that there are not enough pharmacists, while at the same time they are now claiming that there are pharmacists, but they are too expensive,” he said.
Read more: Off their cart: Has Tesco Pharmacy pushed the locum rate row to new heights?
The pharmacy authorities’ joint statement “selects local rates, rather than other costs such as wholesalers’ margins or the community pharmacy’s own desire to make a profit,” he added.
“The PDA doesn’t think attacking locum rates will make existing or newly qualified pharmacists willing to work in the industry either way,” he emphasized.
I think this would have a lot more impact if there was more honesty in the statement. The only problem with the staff is that the staff choose not to work under poor working conditions and the locals demand fair rates in line with inflation. £25 in 2005 is now ~£40.
— Tohidul Islam MRPharmS 🇵🇸 (@TohidMPharm) July 26, 2022
Meanwhile, local pharmacist and co-owner of Schedule Four Consultancy Tohidul Islam took to Twitter to emphasize that locum rates are “not rising quickly”, but are instead rising “in line with inflation”.
“No wonder people are leaving the sector,” he added.
Read more: Pharmacists’ workforce issues drive employment solutions, says NHSE&I chief
Last week (July 22), Tesco Pharmacy made allegations that it is pressuring branches to accept lower wages for services they’ve already secured – or risk losing work – by pointing to four fixed locum rates with a maximum of £36 per hour it introduced earlier this month.
Meanwhile, last month, then Pharmacist Minister Maria Caulfield told C+D that pharmacy is not the only sector facing increasing demand for locums and rising hourly rates – and pressure is being felt in primary care.
What has the Care and Welfare Committee advised?
The committee’s report recommended that the pharmacy’s staffing plan “should ensure that all pharmacists have adequate access to supervision, training and protected apprenticeship, along with clear structures for professional career advancement into advanced practice and consultant-level practice”.
The plan should also take into account that all newly qualified pharmacists will be independent prescribers by 2027, the committee wrote.
Read more: Pharmacy agencies call for protection ‘exhausted and starving finance sector’
In their statement, the pharmacy bodies welcomed the “recognition of these problems by MPs”, although they urged the government to move forward now on the “long-term staff development plan for the pharmacy to address them”.
This, “combined with sustainable funding for the sector, would mean that all pharmacies can continue to provide the safe and quality services that patients and the NHS have come to rely on,” she added.