Solution for lack of pharmacies?

Two Universities are joining up to tackle the growing problem of a recruitment crisis in pharmacies in the South West.

The BBC reports on how “the University of Bath is working with the University of Plymouth to deliver its well established MPharm course at both institutions.”

“Pharmacists are on the government's national shortage occupations list, especially in the South West, which has the highest community pharmacy vacancy rate in England.”

“With no pharmacy degree courses west of Bath, course leaders said they hoped students studying in Plymouth would then fill local vacancies when they graduated.”

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports on the initiative and says that:

“In August 2023, NHS England published the 2022 ‘Community pharmacy workforce survey’, which revealed that the Somerset Integrated Care System (ICS) area had the highest vacancy rate for community pharmacist roles in the country, with 33% (77 of 237) of full-time equivalent (FTE) positions unfilled, including locum and relief pharmacists.

Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire ICS area had a vacancy rate of 25% (72 of 284) of FTE positions unfilled, while Devon ICS area vacancy rate was 20% (84 of 418).”

The NHS workforce Plan aims to increase training places for pharmacists by 29% by 2028/29 however there may need to be targeted action to ensure that these pharmacists are located where they are most needed. 

A lack of pharmacists in rural areas can leave those communities vulnerable as poor public transport options can make travelling to alternative pharmacies more difficult. Initiatives like this joint approach from the Universities of Bath and Plymouth will hopefully encourage more pharmacists to remain in the South West once they have finished their training.


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