Forward-thinking pharmacist progression training programme solves recruitment issues

The work described here was presented at the Pharmacy Together 2019 conference.

Difficulty recruiting Band 7 pharmacists has led to strain on the quality of pharmacy services, patient safety and department morale. Teams had below the minimum required staffing levels which meant staff had difficulty taking annual leave and time off in lieu. 

Senior pharmacists met to discuss a recruitment strategy. Band 6 posts tended to attract many applicants, so the concept of creating a Band 6-7 pharmacist progression program to help fill the gaps in our Band 7 posts was developed.

Over three months, senior pharmacists met to review the training program content and develop training packs in line with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Advanced Level Framework and Clinical Pharmacist Diploma objectives. This was supported by the departmental education governance structure. Feedback was also sought from Band 6 pharmacists on the appeal of a progression program. 

Preliminary results from our current cohort who are all recently qualified and enrolled on the diploma have been positive. We will use anonymous questionnaires and group feedback sessions to measure trainee satisfaction with the program and the impact on the multidisciplinary team. We will also audit quality and quantity of clinical interventions before and after implementation of the program. 

This recruitment model meets the training needs of individuals and staffing needs of the department, both of which improves quality of service

Linking the Band 6 and 7 positions bridges the gap that the traditional career path creates, allowing retention of locally trained Band 6’s and removing the need for staff to apply externally to achieve this progression. Our trainees have all successfully progressed through the first two stages of the program and attained positions on the trust ADVANCE Clinical Practitioner Program, resulting in a 100 percent retention rate.

Improvement in staffing levels and management of annual leave and time off in lieu was apparent after reviewing ward cover schedules and time off in lieu records from time periods before and after the introduction of these posts. 

To mitigate potential problems with the program we had to ensure equitable and unbiased assessments across the board, equal opportunity to complete tasks set, and transparency of decisions for salary increments. Barriers included availability of all parties involved to attend progress review meetings before the salary returns deadline. Due to the success of the program further progression roles have been created within the department for both pharmacists and technicians.

By not relying on the traditional recruitment process and thinking laterally we have improved the recruitment and retention of staff. The goal-orientated nature of the program is structured to motivate staff and ensure their development is to a consistent standard. Experience and feedback will continue to be shared as posts are rolled out across new specialities to maintain continuity and program governance. 

This recruitment model demonstrates benefits over the current system. It has the dual advantage of meeting the training needs of individuals and staffing needs of the department, both of which improves quality of service. 

This work was presented as a poster at the Pharmacy Together 2019 conference, organised by UKCPA and Pharmacy Management.

Additional authors:

Ann-Marie Goacher & Jemma Sanger: Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the UKCPA or its members. We encourage readers to follow links and references to primary research papers and guidance.

Competing interest statement: 

The author declares: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.


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