School of Pharmacy

Lette being sent image

Since 2015, the Humber has lost 15% of its community pharmacies.

Recruitment and funding problems are leaving community pharmacy unsustainable and threatening vital health services.

Humber MPs have written to Government Minister Andrea Leadsom, making the case for a School of Pharmacy in Hull.

Read the letter in full below:

                                                                                                                                                                         15th March 2024

Dear Dame Andrea,

We welcome the recent introduction of the Pharmacy First scheme and pay tribute to the hard work of yourself and others to get this scheme off the ground. It is clear that this scheme will lessen GP pressures and transform easy access to treatment. 

However, in our area there remain significant challenges facing the pharmacy sector and we are writing to ask for your support in obtaining a school of pharmacy based at Hull University.

Since 2015, the Humber LPC has lost 33 pharmacies - 15% of its community pharmacies.

Workforce shortages and recruitment issues are rapidly making community pharmacy unsustainable in the Humber.

There are several factors about our location and infrastructure that create challenges for the pharmacy sector and that a school of pharmacy would help to address. A large one is our geography, motorways don’t even go all of the way to Hull, York, or Grimsby. Our local people have to leave here to train, and they do not always come back.

Even with a school of pharmacy in Huddersfield starting in 2008 and Lincoln in 2014,  recruitment problems have not improved, with both of these schools mainly feeding their graduates into the West Yorkshire and Midlands areas.

We hope that a school of pharmacy at Hull University would aid retention locally and lay the foundations for lifelong inter professional relationships that would enable a genuinely integrated primary care team to better deliver patient services.

Within the last few years, an entirely new pharmacy sector has been born but without an increase in supply, that sector being pharmacists working in GP practices or PCNs. That new cohort of people were sourced from the hospital trusts and community pharmacies, further worsening an already fraught situation.

National workforce data shows that in 2021 the average number of pharmacists per pharmacy was 1.8 FTEs, just the following year that had fallen to 1.6 and anecdotally we imagine those numbers to be even worse in the Humber. NHS England data on unplanned closures show the ICS as a significant outlier nationally with much of the closures caused by inability to obtain locums, and get them here, with supply & demand pushing up locum rates further impacting the financial viability of community pharmacies. Something a school of pharmacy would drastically, and positively, impact.

Nationally between 2021 and 2022 the number of FTEs in community pharmacy dropped by 13% with community vacancies jumping 300% in FTE terms.

This has real-world impact on the ability of pharmacists to provide much needed services to the people of the Humber. When in 2023 the ability for 100hr extended opening community pharmacies to drop their hours to 72hrs came in, and it was brought in as a support measure to keep them afloat, across the Humber we lost 18 of our original 19 100hr sites. That equates to 896hrs per week of pharmacy availability lost.

At the same time as the Humber has been losing community pharmacies, losing pharmacists to practices and being asked to provide more services to assist primary care access, we have also seen the prescription volume rise. Between 2020 and 2023 that dispensing growth locally was 12%, with fewer pharmacies, fewer pharmacists and with more to do away from the dispensing bench and static, but eroding, funding. 

There was a previous attempt to gain a school of pharmacy at Hull in the early 2000’s which ended in 2008 due to the global financial crash. At the time, we were within 48 hours of the school reaching the point of no return and its creation being locked in.

This attempt was initiated by the Hull & East Riding Pharmacy Development Group and had widespread support from the local NHS hospital trusts, the local councils, Yorkshire forward, industry, and many others including the community pharmacy employers, with Boots and Lloyds both putting funding behind their support to assist the University with developing the school, £50k each.

A huge amount of work was done to develop the curriculum and secure student placements. All of this was done to address the workforce shortages felt at the time which, in the 16 years since, have only worsened. 

An influx of locally qualified pharmacist would drastically improve many of these issues, help viability and drive down some costs while enabling enhanced access and delivery of much needed health services to the people of the Humber.

We would appreciate the chance to meet with you to further discuss these issues and the potential for creating a new School of Pharmacy. 

Kind regards,

Rt Hon Dame Diana Johnson DBE MP
Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull North

Rt Hon David Davis MP
Member of Parliament for Haltemprice and Howden

Rt Hon Sir Greg Knight 
Member of Parliament for East Yorkshire

Emma Hardy MP
Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle

Karl Turner MP
Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull East

Martin Vickers
Member of Parliament for Cleethorpes

Liz Nici MP
Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby