New figures from Health Education England (HEE) show that the pharmacist vacancy rate in community pharmacies in England doubled to eight per cent between 2017 and 2021.
The National Pharmacy Association said that this is further evidence that the sector needs better funding in order to recruit and retain staff. The sector is currently suffering its sixth consecutive year of real term cuts.
The new figures also show that 56 per cent of pharmacy contractors reported difficulties in recruiting pharmacists, up from 21 per cent in the earlier survey.
NPA Director of Corporate Affairs, Gareth Jones, said: “Whilst the relatively low response rate to the 2021 survey means we should be cautious about reading too much into the data, they are consistent with what we hear all the time from pharmacies struggling to recruit and retain pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and maintain services.
“It’s a complicated picture, with the pressures of the pandemic overlaying the dire funding situation and a continued drain of pharmacy staff into GP surgeries.
“We continue to work with NHS England, HEE and other pharmacy bodies to seek solutions that will help in the short, medium and long term.
“One practical step would be a requirement that local impact assessments are carried out prior to any recruitment into PCNs/CCG sites under the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS). PCNs and CCGs should, in association with local representative bodies, consider the impact of the creation of new roles on all health care providers in the area and on their ability to deliver their objectives on behalf of the NHS.”
The HEE survey obtained data from 47 per cent of England’s community pharmacies.