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Rotational roles for UK pharmacists helping with workforce issues and career development

Integrated care boards (ICBs) have begun offering rotational roles to pharmacists to deploy them across the system to offer greater career development.

In a new stocktake report into medicine optimisation, the NHS Confederation highlighted that a shortage of pharmacists and the ‘significant competition between primary care providers and NHS trusts’ in hiring the same professionals.

To counter this, some ICBs have begun offering them rotational roles, improving pharmacists’ knowledge of the wider system and encouraging better practices of working and cross-sector appointments, it said.

‘Some interviewees discussed the potential role of consultant pharmacists as clinical leaders in a system; these roles predominantly sit within secondary care providers at present,’ the report said.

‘With their combined responsibilities for research, teaching and clinical practice, there could be opportunities for them to lead more transformational approaches, particularly in relation to patient pathways as they will often have a particular specialism. Training in change management could help the workforce to accelerate this transformation.’

‘Significant progress’

The NHS Confederation found that ICBs have made significant progress in the ‘systemisation’ of medicines optimisation, with ‘understandable variation’ from board to board.

However, it suggested ICBs consider appointing a board-level medicines lead to better integrate medicines optimisation teams across the system, flagging a need for medicine optimisation teams to have a better balance between operational and transformational work.

And ICS leaders – beyond just chief pharmacists – should ensure that medicine optimisation teams are involved in service redesigns from the start so that preventative interventions and similar actions can be factored in early, it said.

The report also recommended ICSs should therefore consider how they can build awareness of medicines optimisation right across the system including into social care.

Optimising medicines is touted as playing a significant role across all four of the ICS core aims, including tackling unequal outcomes and improving population health.

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