We are delighted to announce that Pharmacy Futures NI launched on Monday 9 November 2020 and will run until early January 2020.

Pharmacy Futures NI is designed to significantly bolster the profession in Northern Ireland by attracting pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy staff to come and work here. The campaign is led by Pharmacy Forum NI in partnership with the Department of Health for Northern Ireland.

Specifically, Pharmacy Futures NI aims to address the significant gap in the availability of qualified pharmacy professionals in NI and fill 1,100+ additional roles in pharmacy sector in NI over the next four years. The appointments – which will see current vacancies filled as well as new roles created – will include up to 560 community, hospital and general practice pharmacists and over 600 pharmacy technicians.

Sheelin McKeagney, Chair of Pharmacy Forum NI, commented:

“Over the past decade in particular we have seen demand for pharmacists increase significantly as hospitals introduced seven day working and new roles have been created in the hospital and general practice sectors – many of which have been filled by experienced community pharmacists. While all of these factors have placed enormous pressures on the existing workforce, they have given us an opportunity to attract, recruit and retain more pharmacists into the sector in Northern Ireland.”

The requirement for the roles has been identified in the DoH ‘Pharmacy Workforce Review’, published 9 November 2020 and designed to inform HSC workforce development needs in the pharmacy sector over the next 10 years.

Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, DoH, explained:

“Over the last 30 years the pharmacy profession has been on a transition from the traditional dispensing of medicines to patient facing clinical roles. This expanding clinical role of pharmacists, supported by pharmacy technicians and adoption of technologies such as automation and robots, has resulted in greater effectiveness and importantly better health outcomes for patients. Consequently, these professional groups are in high demand and this will only continue to grow in the coming years – bringing a need to recruit additional pharmacists, alongside skilled pharmacy technicians and pharmacy support staff.”

The recommendations contained within the Review are consistent with proposals for UK-wide reform of the initial education and training of pharmacists in the coming years, which aim to ensure that pharmacy students are prepared for increasingly clinical roles in a multi-sector health environment across hospitals, general practice and community pharmacy.

Pharmacy Futures NI is initially targeting students thinking of entering the profession as well as pharmacists working away from home who may be thinking of returning to Northern Ireland. The campaign will promote pharmacy as a career of choice in NI – underpinned by greater opportunities for career progression, a fully integrated health and social care model, lower cost of living and our high quality of life.

The campaign will feature range of creative initiatives, including videos, digital assets and a website, which will serve as a recruitment hub for those interested in pharmacy roles in Northern Ireland.

In addition, over 30 ‘Pharmacy Champions’ will act as key communicators during the campaign, charting their career pathways and sharing their career highlights and experiences in the profession.