Health CommitteeWritten evidence from East of England Pharmacy Workforce Development Group (ETWP 23)

The East of England Pharmacy Workforce Development Group (EoEPWDG), is a subgroup of the Pharmacy East of England Network (PhEN).1


The EoEPWDG is a specialist sub-group convened by PhEN to:

Devise and monitor strategies for Pharmacy Education, Training &Development across the East of England.

Maintain close links and effective communications with commissioning teams and professional Advisors in the NHS East of England Multi-Professional Deanery.

Evidence for the Health Committee Inquiry

The Government’s plans outlined in the White Paper Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare workforce, have the potential to deliver an improved healthcare educational system which is better aligned to the needs of employers, promotes multi-professional learning and closer links with academic organisations and professional bodies. However, there is insufficient detail, especially at regional and local levels, as to how the issues under consideration by the Health Committee will be achieved.

Specific Considerations

Right numbers of appropriately qualified/trained healthcare staff

1. The group is not assured that the HEE will be in a position to carry out this important function effectively and equitably across the country. It is not clear how the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) will be able to ensure the quality and uniformity of the data across all healthcare professions and how meaningful qualitative clinical outcomes will be linked to numbers.

2. In the NHS Pharmacy profession there is robust numbers data (via a national staffing establishment and vacancy survey) conducted by the NHS Pharmacy Education & Development Committee annually.

It would be very useful to have a national steer via the CfWI and HEE to map this data directly to healthcare outcomes which would inform numbers needed to train.

3. The government plans promote local level decisions by Local Education & Training Boards (LETBs). We need reassurances that there will be systems in place to ensure the following:

3.1each LETB receives clear guidance from the CfWI and the HEE regarding the strategic commissioning intentions of the Commissioning Board so that there is better integration between workforce planning and workforce development focussing on healthcare pathways and clinical outcomes;

3.2each LETB has access to the right expertise and other resources needed to make equitable and fair decisions;

3.3there is comparability between regions and benchmarking to drive improvement; and

3.4there is objective assessment via a national monitor (possibly the CQC) to ensure accountability and tackling of poorly performing LETBs.

Training curricula reflecting the changing nature of healthcare delivery

4. The enhanced communications and collaborative working between employers/service providers and education experts should support this. However, more assurance is needed in terms of ensuring that this collaborative working takes place and that training curricula focus on clinical outcomes.

5. Whilst the involvement of regulatory bodies in curricula development is described there is no mention of professional bodies and other professional associations which would be best placed to support development of curricula which reflect excellence in practice eg the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK) and partner associations.

6. It is not clear how the government plans will ensure that all education and training programmes commissioned via the NHS, carry appropriate accreditation and conform to nationally set standards to ensure consistency and transferability of skills to different settings.

7. It is not clear how the government plans will monitor educational outcomes across the healthcare professions to ensure value for money and provide evidence that it adds value to the service.

8. It is not obvious as to how the models proposed in the government’s plans would allow and maintain timely development of curricula that match the rapidly changing nature of healthcare delivery.

It would be useful to model curricula across healthcare pathways which would necessitate engagement of different healthcare disciplines and utilise multi-professional learning.

All healthcare providers (both NHS and non-NHS) should play their part in workforce development

9. Whilst the government plans address issues around direct costs to all employers, via a levy for the education and development of their workforce, they do not address issues relating to the responsibility of all employers to actually engage with and directly participate in the training ie via clinical placements.

This aspect is particularly relevant to the training of the ‘non-NHS’ pharmacy workforce based in community pharmacies delivering NHS services. It would be useful to have systems in place to ensure that independent pharmacy employers (community pharmacies and private hospitals) have the responsibility for training built in to their contracts and that their engagement with LETBs is mandatory.

Multi-professional and multi-disciplinary leadership and accountability

10. Whilst listed, there is not sufficient detail in the plans as to how this aspiration will be achieved across the full range of healthcare professions/specialties and grades to evidence this outcome.

It would be useful for the new system to make equitable provision for facilitation of leadership skills across the professions and to all grades of healthcare staff and also introduce systems (such as 360 degree appraisals) to achieve this culture shift for all grades.

High and consistent standards of education and training

11. The introduction of the ‘NHS Educational Outcomes Framework’ to ensure consistently high quality standards of healthcare education and training around the country and help healthcare staff meet clinical outcomes should evidence this.

There needs to be more clarity around standardised outcome data and how the standards will be implemented and monitored. There should also be information on channels for feeding back to the HEE either via Professional Advisory Boards or LETBs.

Development and re-skilling of existing workforce

12. The plans provide high level concepts to achieve this. LETBs and local partnership groups would provide good fora for enhanced communication and interactions between different healthcare professions. This would gradually overcome issues around professional boundaries and the silo mentality which is still prevalent.

December 2011

1 PhEN is a clinical and professional network of Chief Pharmacists (in Acute, Mental health and Primary Care Trusts) and regional specialists in Clinical Pharmacy and Patient Safety, Medicines Information, Pharmacy Education, Training and workforce development (ET&D) and Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance.

Prepared 22nd May 2012