Joint communication from the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England and the Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council

Dear colleagues,

We are writing to thank you for continuing to provide vital health services and person-centred care to patients and the public at a time of significant pressures.

We know that everyone working in pharmacy continues to experience high and sustained demands and pressures, and exceptional challenges. Whether you are providing direct care, supporting colleagues, or leading services and teams, we know your contribution is making a major difference for the communities we serve. We want to express our gratitude for your continued professionalism and hard work, and your efforts to provide the best possible services to patients and the public.

It’s clear that there will be further challenges over the coming weeks and months and that this pressure is likely to be exacerbated by staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities, as well as the ongoing industrial action. We recognise that the impact on pharmacy teams both personally and professionally will be significant and potentially prolonged, and that you may have to make some difficult decisions as you deal with the pressures you may face. Please use your professional judgement to assess and mitigate risk, and to deliver safe and effective care for your patients within your scope of practice. Regulatory standards for pharmacy professionals and – where relevant – the standards for registered pharmacies are there to support you in making what may sometimes be difficult decisions. These standards are designed to be adaptable and to provide a framework for decision-making in a wide range of situations.

We understand you may be worried that concerns could be raised with the regulator about your practice. We want to reassure you that in the unlikely event that you are referred to the regulator, they will consider the context you were working in at the time, including factors relating to the environment in which you were working and all relevant resources, guidelines or protocols. We also expect employers, educational supervisors, professional bodies and national health and social care organisations to take the challenging situations you may be facing into account.

We urge you to continue to work closely with colleagues in other local pharmacy services, and the wider multidisciplinary team, and with the local NHS leadership and authorities, to make sure patients get timely access to the care they need. This co-operation and partnership working will be vitally important.

We understand your primary concern will be the care of patients and people using your services. Please also make sure you take care of your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of your colleagues during this time. Please seek support from your employer if you need it, and you can also visit the relevant NHS websites to find out about what support is available to help you protect your health and wellbeing.

Finally, we would like to thank you again for your ongoing hard work to provide the best possible care for patients and the public.

We wish you a happy new year.

Yours sincerely

David Webb, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, NHS England
Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive, General Pharmaceutical Council