Critical Care Workforce Development Toolkit

The Adult Critical Care Pharmacy Workforce Strategy produced by NHS England (NHSE), identifies the development of the critical care pharmacy workforce as a high priority. It reiterates the need for adult critical care units to meet commissioned service levels set out in the NHS England D05 service specification and standards within the Guidelines for the Provision of Intensive Care Services (GPICS) by 2026. The service level and standards include the minimum requirement for a designated (advanced) critical care pharmacist in every organisation across the country, with pharmacy services available to critical care units seven days a week.

At present, there are not enough pharmacists trained in critical care to meet the standards. To resolve this, upskilling of the existing critical care pharmacy workforce is needed, as well as routes for more pharmacy professionals to develop critical care capabilities and work within critical care units.

We recognise that pharmacists’ critical care learning needs vary widely, so the first stage of this work has been to describe groups of learners in terms of tiers, which are based on their service provision abilities and their expected knowledge/skills. The table below highlights the service that pharmacists in each tier might be expected to provide to critical care, and how further development may be supported.   

All Trusts providing critical care services require pharmacists across tiers 1-4 to meet GPICS standards. Larger units require a tier 5 pharmacist. Pharmacists operating at an Operational Delivery Network (ODN) level would also be required to meet tier 5 core skills.

There are national drivers to upskill more pharmacists to be able to work each of the tiers to ensure critical care units across the country are adequately supported.