Unlike the massive staff shortages of doctors and nurses, the UK has a steady flow of candidates to fill pharmaceutical roles. But will this always be the case?
The number of qualified pharmacists entering the profession in the UK has increased due to higher student numbers and more pharmacists relocating to Britain from the EU. The number of pharmacy students more than doubled from 4200 to 9800 between 1999 and 2009, according to figures from the Modernising Pharmacy Careers Programme.
A report from NHS Health Education England stated that: “While the numbers of graduates and student intakes have continued to rise significantly, the expansion in the job market has slowed considerably. Employers are not experiencing the same level of difficulty in retaining staff, and most report no problems in recruitment. As a result, pharmacy was removed from the shortage occupation list in 2011.”
In light of the increase in pharmacy students and pharmacists arriving from the EU, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) commented that “there is increasing evidence that the growth in the number of pharmacists will continue and could outstrip demand in the near future.”
However, recent articles have called into question the role of pharmacists in the community, with a view to expanding their role in the NHS patient care in the future.
The Now or Never report, conducted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, outlined that broadening the role of pharmacists may be the solution improving the standard of care in the NHS. The report discussed the prospect of having pharmacists working more closely with patients, supporting patients with long-term conditions and providing out-of-hours care in urgent situations.
There have also been proposals for pharmacists to be directly linked with surgeries and able to provide health advice and prescriptions in the future. If this did become the norm then there would be a much greater demand for pharmacists.
For more information on becoming a pharmacist in the UK, see the National Careers Service.
About the Author: Ron Stewart has worked in the recruitment industry for 30 years, having owned companies in the IT, construction and medical sectors. He runs the Jobs4Group, and is CEO of Jobs4Medical.