Getting pharmacy workforce supply right


20 / 11 / 2013 Midnight

There is a concern around a potential oversupply of pharmacy graduates. As a result the Government has asked Health Education England and the Higher Education Funding Council for England to look into this issue by carrying out a two-part consultation. 

The first part of the consultation Ensuring a sustainable supply of pharmacy graduates, concluded on 15 November. It sought views on three broad options (listed below) intended to recognise the interests of students, universities, patients and the NHS:

  1. Allow the market to continue and determine student recruitment and numbers of programmes offered
  2. Introduce student intake controls for each programme
  3. Create a break-point during the programme, so that a proportion of students leave with a degree qualification that does not lead to registration as a pharmacist.

NHS Employers gathered views on these broad options and you can read our response to the first stage of consultation on behalf of NHS employers

The second stage will follow in early 2014 and will provide employers with an opportunity to further discuss the chosen option(s) favoured in the first stage. The aim is to have consensus on implementing a new approach from 2015-16.


In 2009, pharmacy was recognised as a shortage occupation by the Migration Advisory Committee. Some key factors led to this including:

  • the opening of new community pharmacies
  • an increase of senior clinical and medicines management posts
  • the shift to a four-year degree programme which led to temporary non-output of graduates.

More recently, due to the changing NHS landscape, the job market has slowed but the number of student intakes and graduates continue to rise. These changes have led to the removal of pharmacy from the shortage occupation list and recruitment and retention premia.

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