Initial education and training
Following the publication of the initial, education and training standards for pharmacists, the NPA continues to influence their implementation across the four nations of the United Kingdom. Currently the focus is on three main work streams - acquiring the qualification of independent prescribing (IP), foundation training and Experiential learning – i.e. undergraduate clinical placements (years 1-4).
Each UK nation is implementing these standards in alignment with their own pharmacy strategy, with the devolved nations being far ahead of England in our view.
By 2026, all newly registered pharmacists will also be independent prescribers. To mitigate against a two tiered pharmacy profession, work across the profession has begun in earnest to support current pharmacists to also become independent prescribers. Notwithstanding the issue around what this new qualification actually would mean for the community pharmacy sector, all within the pharmacy profession agree that pharmacists, as the medicines expert, should also be able to prescribe. After all, community pharmacists already do so in a sense, from their own formulary – the P medicines.
The pharmacy strategies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have outlined the importance of community pharmacists also being independent prescribers, if they are to address the health inequalities in their own nations. Recently, in his first keynote speech the new English Chief Pharmaceutical Officer (CPhO), confirmed that the community pharmacist future is clinically based and that an IP qualification is essential to all. Thus, all nations have made provision (funding and other support), to enable current pharmacists to pursue an independent prescriber qualification regardless of the healthcare setting in which they practice.
Community pharmacists across all nations appear to have the same challenge of finding an appropriate designated medical/ non-medical practitioner to support their studies. This is the focus of most of the stakeholder engagement activities. As the NPA policy manager, I have had several conversations with key stakeholders about this, and in England also attended a formal workshop.
I would like to hear from you if you are an Independent Prescriber and are interested in becoming a DPP yourself.
Formerly known as the pre-registration year, the foundation training in all four countries will now move towards cross-sector placements, through a single point of entry.
All four nations see the implementation of an e-portfolio as part of the success towards multi-sector placements.
Another key change in the IET for pharmacists is the introduction of experiential learning.
That is, the pharmacy student is provided with the relevant practice to apply their theoretical skills during their undergraduate years.
What is the tariff?
Whilst all four nations are aligned to the key outcomes of these programmes, there appears to be a variance around the number of days and therefore payment between the devolved nations and England. The devolved nations work on an average £125 per day over 55 days over four years. Whilst, in England this is approximately £24 per day based over 40.8 weeks across four years.
How long am I expected to support a student for?
The GPhC stipulates 14-16 weeks over the four years.
However, we need to remind ourselves that universities are autonomous, which means that the number of clinical placements per student and year will vary. In the main, in England this would mean that the employer would be hosting for up to three months in any calendar year, whilst in the devolved nations this could vary.
The main objective is for the student to participate in a number of tasks (not shadowing), so that they can ultimately gain experience of working in a community pharmacy.
For instance, undertaking similar roles to a healthcare assistant, such as putting stock on shelves, taking in prescriptions and so on. In an independent community pharmacy, the student can also acquire experience of working in a family run healthcare setting at the heart of the community, plus, the skills required to run a healthcare business.
In summary, the community pharmacy will now become an educational setting, where the employer is investing in the future of the profession. A good work experience will lay the foundation for a fruitful and rewarding Community Pharmacy career. Ultimately other healthcare professionals can also undertake part of their training experience, within community pharmacy which will help to create a better understanding of this sector amongst all healthcare professionals.
There will be set quality criteria to becoming a clinical placement provider, and it is important that the following are taken consideration as part of the decision-making process:
1. Love for education – i.e. investing in the future of the profession.
2. Eventually become an education placement for all healthcare professionals in your local area.
3. The tariff payments may not cover the full time spent.
There will be specific criteria and training set up for this - please visit the relevant links for more information.
Watch out for further guidance from Health Education England and learning resources from the NPA learning and development department.
Current workforce shortages
Workforce pressures continue to weigh heavily on NPA members and the pharmacy profession as a whole. Following the action plan and the root-cause analysis that we conducted in the autumn, the NPA is continuing to work with stakeholders to seek solutions for the short and longer term.
To discuss this and related matters please contact Helga Mangion at [email protected]