A report found that pharmacists working in PCN in England are not appreciated enough by GPs


A government-commissioned report, published by The King’s Fund on March 4th 2022 and commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care, has found that pharmacists working in primary care networks in England are not appreciated enough by GPs and are usually given tasks below their competency level.

The report reviewed the application of four PCN roles subsidised through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS).

“A report found that pharmacists working in PCN in England are not appreciated enough by GPs.“

The ARRS, which was initially announced in the GP contract for England in January 2019, allows each PCN to claim funding for hiring from a collection of fourteen separate healthcare roles, including the ability to claim a minimum of fifty-seven thousand, three hundred and eighteen pounds for hiring an additional pharmacist. The 2019 GP contract set a goal for PCNs to hire six clinical pharmacists by 2023/24. Despite this, following interviews with almost fifty people working in PCNs, including fifteen pharmacists, The King’s Fund report discovered that PCNs lack a strong shared overall strategy and purpose for the ARRS roles.

The report stated: “The potential contribution of additional roles to general practice is not universally understood, despite large amounts of written guidance, job descriptions and roadmaps, all of which may even have added to the confusion. Pharmacists often felt isolated, especially if they had moved from hospital settings where team structures were in place. There was a strong consensus that having a critical mass of pharmacists and technicians, with leadership support, was important.”

Vice-Chair of the National Pharmacy Association, Nick Kaye, stated: “I recognise from direct experience many of the issues highlighted in this report, including the confusion around the PCN pharmacist roles. It’s time for the NHS to think flexibly about allowing PCNs to utilise ARRS funding to commission community pharmacy colleagues to deliver services locally. We are also reissuing our call for mandatory local impact assessments before any further recruitment of pharmacists into PCN pharmacist roles. These assessments should consider the impact on the ability of all healthcare providers in the area, including community pharmacies, to deliver their objectives on behalf of the NHS.”

Chief pharmacist at Argyle Health Group and clinical director at Brentworth PCN, Graham Stretch, stated: “It’s all very well having the staff, but if you don’t have the sense of direction and importantly, the mentorship that staff need and the influence to ensure that they get both the estate, so a desk with a room where they can see patients and the correct delegation of workload, you find that you’ve got people who are rudderless. If you throw that in together with the very considerable pressures on general practice and primary care networks and availability of appropriate tutoring and mentorship, you end up with a situation where you’ve got pharmacists who are very keen to get on but don’t find themselves properly supervised to do the kind of work that is perhaps too advanced for the new people in post.”

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