GP practices have been given £112 million in funding to contribute towards employing an additional 1,500 pharmacists by 2020.
This move is welcomed, following a government announcement five months ago that cuts of £170 million would be made to pharmacy contracts, which could lead to the closure of up to 3,000 pharmacies.
The new investment is part of a wider plan to expand the number of GPs by 5,000 and drive up the numbers of other supporting primary healthcare professionals. This will see an additional £2.4 billion invested each year in general practice services by 2020 to 2021, with investment rising from £9.6 billion a year in 2015 to 2016 to £12 billion a year in 2020 to 2021.
Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board, said: "The creation of ... new jobs for pharmacists, in an era of austerity where value must be proven rather than assumed, shows a strong commitment to the profession from the very top of NHS England."
NHS England is putting a particular focus on expanding the number of pharmacists working in GP surgeries to "enable every practice to access a clinical pharmacist across a minimum population on average of 30,000 - leading to an extra 1,500 pharmacists in general practice".
A pilot, which will see 470 pharmacists working in more than 700 GP practices over the next three years, is receiving a high level of support from the healthcare industry.
In addition, NHS England is planning to open its clinical pharmacist training programme to practices that have directly funded a clinical pharmacist.
The aim here is that pharmacists in GP surgeries will be able to support better working between GPs, hospital pharmacists and community pharmacists, and the transfer of patient care.