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Independent prescribing

GPhC to consult on education and training of pharmacist independent prescribers

Regulator is looking to remove potential barriers to expanding the number of pharmacist independent prescribers.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is to consult on education and training standards for pharmacist independent prescribers.

The consultation, which was confirmed at a GPhC meeting on 8 February 2018, is expected to open in March 2018 and will propose three key changes to education and training standards for pharmacist independent prescribers, including the supervision of trainee prescribers and entry requirements.

In its first proposal, the GPhC suggests revising the prerequisite entry requirements for training. Currently, applicants must have worked in a patient-facing area for two years before training to prescribe in that area and must have the relevant pharmacological knowledge and skills to support their prescribing training before they start the course.

But the GPhC has proposed that the two-year time prerequisite be removed and replaced with an application process in which an applicant’s experience is verified by course providers to ensure that they are ready to train. The course provider will consider factors such as patient-facing work experience and participation in multi-disciplinary aspects of prescribing. The GPhC said the change would shift the emphasis from the quantity of knowledge and skills, to their quality.

The second proposal from the GPhC concerns the introduction of general learning outcomes to describe the knowledge and skills a trainee should have achieved on successful completion of a course. The Council said the model would reflect “the reality of contemporary prescribing practice”.

Finally, the GPhC will propose revisions to the educational supervision requirements for pharmacist independent prescribers in training, from a designated medical practitioner to a designated prescriber practitioner.

“We think it is important that trainees decide what kind of prescribing supervisor they have, in consultation with their course provider,” explained Damian Day, head of education at the GPhC.

“If a trainee thinks that being supervised by a doctor would be most helpful to them then they should be supervised by a doctor, but if they feel that a pharmacist would be more appropriate, that would now be an option.”

Day added that the change would remove a potential barrier to the expansion of the number of pharmacist independent prescribers and alleviate pressure on both course providers and, ultimately, service providers.

“Giving this responsibility to practising pharmacist independent prescribers would also give them the opportunity to train the next generation and share their experience in the workplace,” he said.

As a safeguard, all those wanting to become a designated prescriber practitioner would need to complete a GPhC accreditation exercise to ensure that supervisors have the necessary skills and experience to be able to do the job effectively.

The proposals around the supervision of pharmacist independent prescribers in training was initially introduced by the GPhC in a discussion paper, published on 30 November 2016. The discussion period ran for eight weeks and closed on 1 February 2017 receiving 576 responses.

The majority of respondents (76%) agreed that it was right in principle to extend supervision rights to experienced non-medical prescribers and many acknowledged the difficulty of finding a designated medical practitioner to supervise pharmacist independent prescribers in training.

However, some respondents said that non-medical prescribers were more limited in their training and that trainees needed the broader experience and knowledge they gain from designated medical practitioners, particularly in regard to patient-focus, clinical assessment and diagnosis.

In its meeting on 8 February 2018, the Council agreed that some alterations would be made to the draft consultation document before the final consultation is launched in March 2018.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20204384

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