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Preregistration trainee

London weighting needed to tackle preregistration vacancies in the capital, says LPC chief

Local pharmaceutical committee chief officer says the preregistration training grant does not cover the cost of living in the capital and should be increased to avoid high vacancy rates.

Raj Matharu, chief officer of Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich LPC

Raj Matharu, chief officer of Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich local pharmaceutical committee, says the preregistration training grant should be increased for trainees based in London to cover the cost of living in the capital

Preregistration pharmacists who want to work in the community sector in London should be paid a higher training grant in order to tackle vacancy rates, a local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) chief officer has said.

The national preregistration training grant of £18,440 is paid by Health Education England (HEE) to contractors, who are are expected put it towards the salary of their preregistration pharmacist and top it up themselves.

But the grant fails to cover London’s exceptional costs of living, according to Raj Matharu, chief officer of Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich LPC.

Now Matharu is calling for the training grant to be London-weighted so that more preregistration pharmacists are attracted to developing their community pharmacy career in the capital.

Matharu told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “I have been telling NHS England and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee that London is unique and that the training grant should have a London weighting.”

Although typically contractors top up the training grant, in the current financial climate that option is virtually impossible, he said.

“Contractors more and more are telling me that their income isn’t covering their expenses so it’s highly unlikely they will be in a position to top up the training grant,” he said.

Matharu’s comments follow the publication of 2017 community pharmacy workforce figures compiled by HEE — the organisation responsible for workforce training and development — which published earlier in the summer.

The statistics revealed that London had the highest number of preregistration vacancies. The vacancy rates, organised by clinical commissioning group (CCG) area, showed that six out of 14 preregistration places in Bexley and seven out of 10 places in Greenwich were unfilled.

The rates were similar for other parts of south London: Croydon had six out of 25 vacancies unfilled, compared with Lewisham (seven out of 19) and Southwark (six out of 17). In north London, Camden had five out of 23 places left vacant and Enfield had six out of eight places unfilled.

The statistics also revealed that the West Country had some of the highest community pharmacist vacancy rates.

Some 15 out of 41 posts remained vacant in Bath and North East Somerset CCG area; the vacancy rate was 13 out of 140 places in Somerset and 23 out of 202 places in Devon, while Kernow in Cornwall had a vacancy rate of 15 out of 107 places.

A spokesperson for Somerset CCG said the absence of a pharmacy school in the South West was one of the main factors behind the vacancy figures. There was also a similar problem filling GP vacancies, they said.

They told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “The key issue is that in Somerset and in the wider South West we don’t have a school of pharmacy. The nearest one to us is in Bath, the Peninsular Medical School is in Plymouth in Devon and focuses on GP education, but we have no university like that in Somerset.

“It’s a real challenge across the South West to fill these [pharmacist and GP] vacancies.” 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205311

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