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Optional guidance published by NHS England to address pharmacist workforce issues

NHS England has published ‘optional guidance’ for employers on a shared workforce model for pharmacists in a bid to address retention and recruitment issues.

But it has stressed that ’it is not a recommendation that shared workforce models are generally appropriate and/or that they should be implemented in any specific case’.

The guidance sets out optional workforce models that hospital pharmacy departments and community pharmacies may wish to consider in collaboration with primary care networks (PCNs).

Informed by local pharmaceutical committees and employer organisations, it includes examples of different contractual models for shared workforce such as secondment or joint and concurrent employment.

It also provides an overview of how integrated care boards (ICBs) can facilitate workforce conversations with employers from hospital, general practice and community to assess and agree workforce models that best meet the needs of local systems, employers, pharmacists and patients.

With an additional focus on delivering the Network Contract Directed Enhanced Service (DES), the guidance stresses that where PCNs are reimbursed via the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS), ’they must ensure recruitment of clinical pharmacists is in accordance with the Network Contract DES’.

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It adds that both employers should be aware of these requirements, which includes ’the requirement to undertake and qualified from an approve training pathway such as the 18-month PCPEP course’.

Risks and benefits of shared workforce models

NHS England notes there will be ’a range of commercial and legal risks associated with each of the contractual and operational models’.

It recommends that organisations ’take their own independent professional advice regarding the risks – and options for mitigation – when considering the suitability of any of the potential shared employment models and before proceeding with a shared workforce model in any case’.

At the same time, the guidance outlines some potential benefits of shared workforce models, both for employers and pharmacists. These include improved recruitment and retention, cross sector insights that facilitate improved patient care and strengthen working relationships, greater resilience to workforce changes, and improved job satisfaction for pharmacists.

’Shared workforce models may help to meet local system workforce needs, particularly where there are retention and recruitment issues’, NHS England said in the guidance. ’They also provide individuals with opportunities for varied portfolio careers which may realise benefits in integrated care and greater job satisfaction.’

However, it added: ’NHS England will not be held responsible for any liability arising from this guidance and organisations should not place any reliance on it; individual organisations must seek their own advice before entering legal agreements for shared workforce models or other shared employment arrangements.’

A panel discussion at a recent King’s Fund conference covered the subject of portfolio working, with Patricia Wright, a pharmacist and chief executive of The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Trust, suggesting that pharmacists spending time working within different settings – including community, general practice and hospital – could help them ‘learn different ways of working’ rather than ‘stealing [workforce] from each other’.






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