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Strategic review of the future pharmacist workforce



The Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) has published a review of the future supply and demand for the pharmacist workforce in England looking ahead to 2040. Key findings include that it is likely that there will be a surplus supply of pharmacists in the future unless action is agreed in the short-term.
The work, which was commissioned by the Department of Health, was set in the context of the ongoing rise in pharmacist student numbers (more than doubling from 1999 to 2009) and the Modernising Pharmacy Careers (MPC) Professional Board recommendation that the four-year pharmacy masters degree and pre-registration training year should be integrated into a single five- year course. The review, A strategic review of the future pharmacist workforce: informing pharmacy student intake, considers the risks of an oversupply of MPharm graduates compared with the demand for qualified pharmacists and supply of pre-registration placements.
In response, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Health Education England (HEE) are today launching a consultation with stakeholders on the supply of pharmacy graduates in England. This follows a request from the government for both organisations to review the current arrangements for the study of pharmacy.
CfWI Chief Operating Officer, Greg Allen, says of the CfWI review:
“The review was driven by the need to provide sustainable, high-quality pharmacy services in a complex and evolving environment. Its purpose is to consider how a series of factors interrelate to impact on the supply and demand of the future workforce”.
The CfWI review was informed by a series of workshops with stakeholders. These included employers and pharmacists across all sectors, heads of pharmacy schools, professional bodies, representative student bodies and trust chief pharmacists’ networks education & training providers.
As a result of these sessions, stakeholders developed four plausible future scenarios describing the possible shape of the pharmacist workforce in 2040. These scenarios were chosen as they had the least predictability and the highest potential impact on the workforce. While plausible, no single scenario is intended to be a direct prediction of the future. As a set of four scenarios, however, they produce a reasonable boundary within which the future is likely to unfold. In all four scenarios, supply is forecast to exceed demand, regardless of the pharmacists’ role in healthcare.
Therefore it is likely that there will be a surplus supply of pharmacists in the future. The possible range of oversupply by 2040 across all the plausible futures is between 11,000 and 19,000 pharmacists.

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