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The pharmacist workforce and its future



Catherine Duggan PhD FRPharmS
Director of Professional Development and Support at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London, UK
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has recently published a Pharmacy Workforce Action Plan to address pharmacists’ concerns about the future of the profession’s workforce that fit with the findings of the recently published strategic review of the Future Pharmacist Workforce undertaken by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence.
David Branford, English Pharmacy Board (EPB) Chair, said:
“Early this year, our member sentiment survey clocked that pharmacists are concerned about the pharmacy workforce and the future of the profession. We responded by holding an open summit that looked at the issues and workshopped possible solutions. The Workforce Action Plan is what emerged from those workshops and from wider consultation with pharmacists and stakeholders. It’s really important to us that our members and all pharmacists know the extensive work we are doing around this issue, as their input is vital to the process.”
Workforce Leadership Paper
The Workforce Leadership Paper outlines issues surrounding the pharmacy workforce and its future, and suggests options for addressing these issues.
It was created by the Education Expert Advisory Panel of the RPS, and can be found in the Workforce Hub of the RPS website ( In addition, the RPS EPB has put forward some ideas for discussion about how the future of the pharmacy workforce should look.
  • The EPB believes that there should be a moratorium on new applications for schools of pharmacy
  • To maintain the quality of pharmacy graduates able to contribute to the health of the nation, there needs to be a control on the number of students in much the same way as there is for dental and medical schools
  • NHS England and employers need to bring forward a range of ways in which pharmacists can be employed, and which will bring much-needed improvements in the way medicines are optimised in patient care. The EPB will be playing its part in this through the sponsorship of the New Models of Care for Pharmacy Commission.
Workforce is a serious issue
The RPS views the issue of workforce, both supply and demand, as a serious issue requiring further work, not just in Great Britain, and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the establishment of a Global Pharmacy Workforce Observatory (GPWO) with the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). Both FIP and RPS aim to establish a permanent contemporary workforce databank under the GPWO, an online database platform for global workforce intelligence that will be hosted by the RPS on behalf of FIP and specifically, the FIP Education Initiative. The database platform will be accessible and utilised by FIP Member Organisations and FIP Institutional Members as a membership benefit.
GPWO project plan
The GPWO project plan has currently been prepared and a GPWO Memorandum of Understanding between FIP and RPS has been agreed and was formally signed at FIP’s 73rd Annual Congress in Dublin on 1 September 2013. Both Chief Executives, together with the President of FIP, Dr Michel Buchmann, and the President of the RPS, Mr Martin Astbury, were present at this event.

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