Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians

Wherever you can help, you’re needed

To rejoin the NHS, please complete this survey so we can understand how best to use your skills.

We have a large team working as quickly as they can to bring people back. It is important that we take sufficient time to ensure you are matched on an individual basis to where your skills are most needed, so it may take up to a week before you are contacted by a local NHS organisation.

Please read the FAQs below carefully before making contact as your questions may be answered there. If you have already completed the NHS returners survey, please be assured that your offer of support is in progress and you will be contacted shortly.

If you are based in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, your details will be passed on to the relevant NHS body.

As a qualified and experienced pharmacist or pharmacy technician who has either temporarily or permanently left the NHS, your colleagues and local community are in urgent need of your support to join the fight against COVID-19 in a number of different ways that don’t have to involve frontline care.

COVID-19 has the potential to put huge additional demand on our NHS and our fellow citizens. In such emergencies, the GPhC has powers to register on a temporary basis fit, proper and suitably experienced people to act as pharmacists and pharmacy technicians during the emergency.

We greatly appreciate the time and effort that you have already given the NHS and have put everything in place to ensure re-joining us is easy and safe for you (in fact it will be done automatically if you choose to return). You can choose how much time you contribute and are free to stop working at any point. Your contract will reflect standard terms and conditions such as working hour protections, pay arrangements, and annual leave entitlement.

This isn’t only about clinically treating patients – there is also a need to provide a calm and stoic presence whose ripple effect is felt way beyond any health or social care setting. Many members of the general public are anxious and need reassurance. Your expertise can help in so many ways, so even if you fall into a group which is considered to be at increased risk, you can still offer valuable support through a variety of roles in secondary, community and primary care.

Understandably, you will have important questions to ask before making your decision, whether that be around your own health and wellbeing, professional indemnity, pensions or remuneration. We have aimed to answer many of these here but if you have any further queries, do please contact the team at nhsi.pharmacy.returners@nhs.net.

We have aimed to answer many of these here but if you have any further queries, do please contact the team at nhsi.pharmacy.returners@nhs.net

Your expertise and experience will be valued beyond measure at this difficult time.

Frequently asked questions

All staff that return to work in the NHS will be paid the substantive rate for their role. The actual amount and the frequency will be confirmed by your employer.

Pharmacists who return to work in a hospital or general practice setting will usually return on a pay point that is no lower than when you retired. Community pharmacy is not part of the Agenda for Change pay model used in these settings.  However, employers will be expected to pay at comparable pay rates to reflect skill base and training.

If you return to the NHS after retirement, you should be paid on the pay point which is no lower than the pay point before you retired for a similar role.

Community pharmacy is not part of the Agenda for Change pay model.  However, employers will be expected to pay at comparable pay rates to reflect skill base and training.

If you have not retired, but left NHS employment, you will be paid appropriately for the role you are doing. If you return to work in roles covered by NHS national terms and conditions of service, the actual amount and the frequency will be confirmed by your employer.

Yes. There are also opportunities for face to face roles such working with the COVID-19 Response Service (CRS) or NHS 111. In addition, local OOH providers, GP surgeries and PCNs have non face to face roles which urgently require support.

If you want to return to a more junior role, you will still be paid the substantive rate for your role and should be paid at the top of the pay scale for that role. Community pharmacy is not part of the Agenda for Change pay model.  However, employers will be expected to pay at comparable pay rates to reflect skill base and training.

We want to make sure that we look after anyone who chooses to temporarily return to work. This may mean that you are placed with a remote or digital service, such as CRS or 111, so you would not need to consider moving to a different area. In any instances where returning pharmacists or pharmacy technicians are needed to deliver face to face service provision, where possible you will be sent to an area where you have worked before or are already linked with. There might be rare occasions where we would ask if you would consider moving to a different area to cover an acute workforce shortage, but this would of course be at your discretion and discussed with you beforehand.

If engaged by an NHS trust to provide NHS services, you will be covered by the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Trusts (CNST). If engaged by a GP practice to provide NHS services, you will be covered by the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP). It is envisaged that where clinical staff are brought back to help in delivering NHS services for the purposes of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, that:

  1. They will be covered under the CNST if they are engaged by an NHS trust to provide the NHS services (irrespective of where the services are provided – in hospital, a clinic or on GP premises), or
  2. They will be covered by the CNSGP if they are engaged by a GP practice or Part 4 contractor to provide NHS services that are either:
    • Primary medical services (provided under a GP contract [Part 4 NHS Services Act 2006] – GMS/PMS/APMS)
    • Another type of NHS service provided as part of the activities of the GP practice

Indemnity for those working in community pharmacy should be discussed with the employer.

No, you will not have to pay to temporarily return to the GPhC register.

No, this will not be necessary. However, everyone entered temporarily on the register will be required to meet the standards for pharmacy professionals. As part of this, you will be required to work within your areas of competence and make clear to your employer if there are specific tasks or practices that you do not feel competent to undertake, for example due to developments that have taken place in pharmacy practice since your previous withdrawal from the register.

Yes – you will receive a fast track induction that will cover key mandatory training requirements as well as more specific guidance, for example on the management of coronavirus and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Return to practice courses are also available. There would also be local employer-led induction. Employers and service providers remain responsible for making sure that temporarily registered workers are competent for role, and are appropriately inducted, trained and supervised.

Yes, though if you have a recent DBS Certificate or have maintained a subscription to the DBS Update Service then it may not be necessary for a further application to be submitted. An assessment will be undertaken by your employing organisation, utilising guidance from NHS Employers, to determine if a further check is required.

Where a new DBS application is required, the DBS is proposing to extend the scope of its services to include a new fast track check against the adults and/children’s barred lists. These arrangements will enable employers to recruit into a regulated activity before receiving the full disclosure certificate, where they have undertaken a risk assessment and put in place appropriate monitoring and supervision.

You will not be required to pay for a DBS check.

Given the increased risk of COVID-19 in those with co-morbidity and in the elderly population, we would of course advise this group against returning to face to face clinical work. However, there is a range of non-face to face roles that you may be interested in exploring.

With permission, your contact details will be passed on to regional teams so that you can be linked with local providers.

Ideally you would be placed in one role, but this cannot be guaranteed. Any proposed changes to your role would be discussed with you first.

Fast track induction processes are being developed locally. This will include refreshing on old skills, such as dispensing processes and prescribing where appropriate, as well as new skills such as PPE training.

If you become ill while working, you should immediately inform your line manager and withdraw from work. If you think you may be ill due to COVID-19 you should follow national guidance in place at the time (likely to be self-isolation).

If you change your mind and don’t want to work anymore you should tell your line manager. A professional approach would be expected – for example leaving when you had completed your shift.

As far as possible, we aim to match you to a suitable role. In some situations, you may need to be placed in a different role according to service requirements. Where this is necessary, you will be supported adequately to take on these roles. Training and supervision will be given.

If you have a joint contract between clinical and educational/research roles, your provider trust will contact you to discuss whether you are prepared to give up these activities in the short term (unless working on education or research in relation to COVID-19) to provide more clinical support in the workplace. Those with teaching expertise may be able to help provide induction for others including those returning staff – for example, in the use of PPE.

Discuss with your employers under what circumstances you should temporarily suspend your external commitments in order to provide more clinical support in your employing organisation. The balance between supporting front-line NHS services directly and delivering the business as usual work of the national bodies should be carefully balanced in each case.

There are multiple possible roles that you might be expected to take on, including face to face roles in clinical areas across the NHS, medicines supply and assurance roles. Decisions on how you are deployed will take account of your knowledge, competence and experience.

You will be needed for a limited time period but at this stage, the exact length is unpredictable. You are free to stop working at any point. Contracts are likely to be drawn up for six months with the possibility for extension.

Yes. You will have a contract that reflects all the working hour protections, pay arrangements, annual leave entitlement and inductions that are provided to new staff.

Identity checks will be required but this will be a fast track process. Owners of registered pharmacies must continue to meet the Standards for Registered Pharmacies, including those for temporarily registered staff.

If you perform a role which requires one, you may be placed on a rota but this will be discussed with the organisation you will be placed in.

If you develop symptoms, national guidance for testing will be followed.

As soon as coronavirus is identified in staff, they will be withdrawn from work and national guidance will be followed.

If you decide to return to work, a risk assessment will be conducted locally and you are advised to avoid COVID-19 exposure, which could mean redeployment to a non-frontline role where remote working is possible.

People with chronic heart and lung disease have a higher risk of complications and higher mortality than the general population. We would of course not advise this group to return to directly face to face roles.

If the epidemic worsens it is likely that healthcare professionals will have to work outside their normal field of practice. When deciding the safest and best course of action in the circumstances, you should consider factors which include:

  • What is within your knowledge and skills
  • The protection and needs of all patients you have a responsibility towards
  • Minimising the risk of transmission
  • Protecting your own health

We do not want indemnity to be any barrier to flexible working, so the Government is planning to introduce additional indemnity coverage for clinical negligence liabilities that may arise when staff are working as part of the COVID-19 response or undertaking NHS work to backfill others, in the event that existing arrangements (CNST, CNSGP or individual arrangements) do not cover a particular activity.

The GPhC acknowledges that pharmacy professionals may be anxious about context not being taken into account when concerns are raised about their actions in very challenging circumstances. Where a concern is raised about a registered professional, it will always be considered on the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working. The GPhC would also take account of any relevant information about resources, guidelines, or protocols in place at the time.

While there are currently no reported medicine shortages as a result of COVID-19, doctors and pharmacy professionals may face requests from patients for extra medication to stockpile. Medical Defence Organisations have advised doctors to resist pressure to overprescribe and to stick to existing policy on repeat prescribing unless they receive official advice stating otherwise.  Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should support this messaging to patients, and discourage any attempt to stockpile medicines, whether on prescription or by purchase of over the counter medications.

Your expertise and experience will be valued beyond measure at this difficult time. If you are willing to help us, please complete the survey. Thank you.