Annual workforce survey
Published on: 7th September 2022 | Updated on: 24th October 2023
Since 2022, it has been a Terms of Service requirement for pharmacy owners to complete an annual NHS England community pharmacy workforce survey.
The data from the survey is intended to provide a full picture of the community pharmacy workforce, including identifying the number of vacancies and regions where these are particularly hard to fill.
The 2023 Workforce Survey
The 2023 Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey, conducted by North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) on behalf of NHS England, opened on 23rd October 2023.
Completion of the survey is a mandatory requirement for all pharmacy owners.
The NHSBSA sent an email to pharmacy owners containing a link to the survey on 23rd October 2023. You can also access the survey via the following link:
In some cases, e.g. Company Chemists’ Association member companies and other multiple pharmacy groups, head offices will complete the survey centrally. If you are not sure whether the survey will be completed centrally, please ask your head office for guidance.
The survey is open for eight weeks and will close on Sunday 17th December 2023.
More information on the survey
This survey is very similar to the previous surveys, with questions about the number and full-time equivalent (FTE) number of ten different types of staff (including pharmacists, trainee pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dispensing assistants, medicines counter assistants and delivery drivers). The survey also asks about any trainees in the pharmacy.
You can see the questions that are asked in the online survey in the 2023 survey crib sheet.
To understand the make-up of the community pharmacy workforce, as part of the Inclusive Pharmacy Practice programme, optional questions regarding four protected characteristics (age, sex, ethnicity, disability) are also included in the survey. Although these questions are optional, collating this information is important and pharmacy owners are encouraged to submit this data where it is available.
The survey was developed by NHS England’s Workforce, Training and Education (WT&E) directorate (formerly Health Education England (HEE)) in partnership with NECS. They worked closely on development of the survey with Community Pharmacy England, AIM, CCA and NPA.
The data is collected through two different methods:
- an online survey; and
- data collection at head office level (for those multiple pharmacy groups which choose this approach) through an Excel template. When completed the spreadsheet should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2023 survey intends to develop and strengthen the information on the community pharmacy workforce. The data will support decisions on where the community pharmacy workforce can contribute to supporting clinical service expansion and ensure that education reforms for both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians enable patients to receive more services from their community pharmacies.
Data from the 2023 survey will be available at Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey – data.gov.uk in 2024, including the principles used for data cleansing.
As with the data from the last survey, NHS England will anonymise and aggregate results at Integrated Care System (ICS) level. NHS England and NECS follow clear information governance processes which keep the data anonymised and ensure that participating pharmacies and individuals within the pharmacies are not identifiable.
Workforce challenges are currently adversely impacting most sectors of the UK economy, but they are being particularly acutely felt within community pharmacy with serious consequences for pharmacy owners.
We have called for improved workforce planning to be undertaken by the Government and NHS; they have committed to do this in their NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. However, for this to happen, high quality workforce data for community pharmacy needs to be available.
For this reason, we agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England that from 2022 it would become a Terms of Service requirement for pharmacy owners to complete an annual NHS England community pharmacy workforce survey, which will provide a full picture of the community pharmacy workforce, including identifying the number of vacancies and regions where these are particularly hard to fill.
Regulations were laid in Parliament which made this a requirement of the Terms of Service from 1st October 2022.
At the same time, we agreed with DHSC and NHS England that the requirement to undertake an annual patient satisfaction survey would be removed from the Terms of Service from 1st October 2022, so the workforce survey didn’t create an additional burden for hard-pressed pharmacy owners.
The survey was first undertaken in 2017 and it was repeated in 2021 and 2022.
This survey was very similar to the previous two surveys (undertaken in 2017 and 2021), with questions about the number and full-time equivalent (FTE) number of ten different types of staff (including pharmacists, trainee pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, dispensing assistants, medicines counter assistants and delivery drivers). The survey also asked about any trainees in the pharmacy.
You can see the questions that were asked in the online survey in the HEE survey crib sheet.
The survey was developed by HEE in partnership with NHS England. They worked closely on development of the survey with Community Pharmacy England, AIM, CCA and NPA.
Research and evaluation specialists, ICF, conducted the survey. ICF collected the data on behalf of HEE, on a secure server, in accordance with information governance policy.
The data was collected through two different methods:
- an online survey; and
- data collection at head office level through an Excel template.
The results of the 2022 Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey were published by NHS England on 3rd August 2023.
The data will also help NHS England and stakeholders to make the case for future investment in education and training for the sector.
The results provide a snapshot of the community pharmacy workforce in autumn 2022, when 95% of pharmacy owners submitted information on their workforce.
The key findings include:
- The reported numbers for the total workforce (Full-Time Equivalents (FTE)) have reduced 6% in total (from 2021).
- The overall number of pharmacists remains almost constant (compared to 2021 data), but FTE figures indicate a decline in employed pharmacists (15%) and an expansion in use of locum pharmacists (26%).
- The number of pharmacy technicians indicates a reduction (compared to 2021 data).
- For all roles, there is an increase in the vacancy rate; 20% for pharmacy technicians, 16% for pharmacists and 9% for dispensing assistants.
- There is a 37% increase in the reported number of Independent Prescribers, up by 422.
NHS England say the data is also informing their ongoing review of the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS).
The Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group undertook a detailed analysis of the survey data: