Workforce and education

The development of the pharmacy workforce is important area for the future of the profession.

Workforce development concentrates on the skills, knowledge, values and behaviours that are needed by the workforce to deliver services now and in the future as well as considering how these will be resourced. High quality education and training is fundamental to developing a capable workforce for delivering safe and effective pharmacy services for patients.

Effective workforce planning anticipates imbalances between supply and demand for different skills in time for action to be taken. The terms workforce planning and workforce development are often used interchangeably and work at local, regional and national levels. A pharmacist acting as a pre-registration trainee pharmacist tutor is developing the pharmacy workforce. A pharmacy department or business thinking about the number of staff it has in its establishment (including the roles and skill mix) now and in the future is undertaking workforce planning. The Londep is well placed to provide an authoritative voice for the pharmacy workforce to support workforce planning and workforce development for the profession.

Workforce development and pharmacy education

An evolving healthcare workforce is one that can adapt its core roles and responsibilities to meet the new and emerging needs of patients and the public. For pharmacy, this means providing  support to develop pharmacists across all sectors to meet the changing demography and healthcare needs of an ageing population with increasingly complex medicine regimens within a cost constrained healthcare system. The pharmacy workforce needs to grow in clinical capability, generalist and specialist skills development and most importantly, the flexibility to adapt to changing patient and health system need. Therefore the RPS advocates a needs based approach to workforce education and development.

A workforce development approach based on patients’ needs fits with the healthcare policies which set out a vision for the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales. There is a focus on disease prevention, new, flexible models of service tailored to local populations and needs; integration between services and consistent leadership across the health and care system. Once services are defined, the workforce required to deliver the services is adapted, flexed or developed to deliver the service. A workforce that can contribute to the public’s health and deliver pharmaceutical care will be integral to delivering these services, that is, a holistic, patient-focused approach to getting the best from investment in and use of medicines that requires, an enhanced level of patient centred professionalism, and partnership between clinical professionals and a patient.

Reform of pharmacy education and training

The RPS has been supporting workforce development of pharmacists since 2010.  Key to this has been its mechanisms to support, recognise and develop pharmacists – particularly the Foundation Programme and Faculty. Leading with authority, the RPS has created and implementing standards that support and share best practice, as well as supported and developed those aspiring to best practice, whilst ensuring safety for patients and the public.

The RPS will work with and influence policy makers on the reform of the education and training for pharmacists to improve care and outcomes for patients. As various models of care will emerge, it is not the RPS’s place or appropriate to articulate skill mix levels or numbers of pharmacy staff for services. Patients’ needs are better served by moulding a pharmacy workforce to achieving positive patient outcomes. The potential of our profession will be realised through the RPS’s vision for the pharmacy workforce that is currently being developed and members will be asked for input.

Work planning and development Work planning and development

RPS members have over recent years consistently raised that the main challenges facing the profession include workforce issues around pharmacist’s roles and numbers. In response to this the RPS will hold summits to establish the parameters of workforce issue and to discuss possible solutions and develop action plans. 

This Workforce Hub has been established as a repository of our plans for addressing the workforce issues, as well reporting, information and updates.

This hub will allow you to become acquainted with the facts, the options and actions. Your input is vital to this process. Share your ideas, thoughts and concerns with us and with each other by emailing us at [email protected], or by using  on Twitter

Current workforce related work streams



Health Education England: 

NHS Education for Scotland:  

NHS Wales:  

Education reforms Education reforms

The many changes that are unfolding that are challenging for all professional bodies to engage with.

Our representative membership across the entire profession partnerships with organisations and specialist and science groups, puts the RPS in a position where we have an important and growing role to:

  1. explaining educational reform and considering it's impact on the wider system, including the devolved nations and all employment sectors,
  2. engage and motivate individuals and groups in that reform and the sharing of best practice,
  3. and secure expertise for developments and change.

One of the larger contributions we can make is to engage the system with the central tenet of education and health services and shift the mood towards embracing reform and new opportunities.


We will:

  1. Build connections and create networks focussing on professional education.
  2. Hold events to share best practice in education.
  3. Help colleagues gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of roles and issues relating to education across sector, specialisms and nations.
  4. Advocate strongly for practitioner development, support and recognition

Ways we can help in these times of change:

  • Supporting Local Leaders through Local messaging at LPFs
  • Host a symposia on educational matters and policy reforms relevant to pharmacy
  • Work with partner Groups to develop portfolios
  • Show educational  leadership through our Education panel and reference groups
  • Educational stewardship through sharing best practice
  • Supporting members at all levels- through RPS Mentor

Transforming the Pharmacy Workforce in Great Britain: the RPS Vision Transforming the Pharmacy Workforce in Great Britain: the RPS Vision

The RPS has set out a direction of travel for the pharmacy workforce over the coming years that we believe puts patients at the centre of all that we do, promotes proactive, compassionate pharmaceutical care and encourages professionals, services and organisations to work together. 

Transformation of the pharmacy workforce will, the RPS believes, be an essential component of developing excellent healthcare. Pharmacists some in existing roles, some in new roles will be ensuring the optimal use of medicines for patients who are, as a result, empowered and informed.


The paper 'Transforming the Pharmacy Workforce in Great Britain: the RPS Vision' covers:

  • The RPS journey with workforce development since 2010;
  • The vision for education and training for pre-qualified staff;
  • The vision for developing the post-qualified pharmacy workforce.

The RPS is committed to supporting the achievement of the vision for the pharmacy workforce and will therefore identify annual priorities for professional development, support and recognition.

Download Transforming the Pharmacy Workforce in Great Britain: the RPS Vision

FAQs - Transforming the Pharmacy Workforce in Great Britain: the RPS Vision

Comments and views on the vision are welcome as the RPS is planning to continually develop the vision to meet the changing needs of the population and healthcare systems. Comments can be sent to [email protected].
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