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Education and training

Newly qualified pharmacists could be independent prescribers if foundation programme launches in 2021, says regulator and chief pharmaceutical officers

The pharmacy regulator and chief pharmaceutical officers have said that one of the aims of the proposed foundation programme “would be for new registrants to be independent prescribers”.

Students taking exam


Proposals to make all newly qualified pharmacists independent prescribers will be subject to consultation

The potential for a foundation programme to replace the preregistration year in 2021 could mean all newly qualified pharmacists also qualify as independent prescribers, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the four UK chief pharmaceutical officers (CPOs) have said.

Health Education England (HEE) and NHS England (NHSE) announced last week that a foundation programme would replace the current preregistration year from summer 2021 across the UK “subject to consideration”.

A letterfrom Duncan Rudkin and Trevor Patterson, chief executives of the GPhC and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland respectively, and the four UK CPOs, published on 28 July 2020, said that “one aim” of the foundation year “would be for new registrants to be independent prescribers, albeit recognising implementation needs to take account of each country’s circumstances”. The proposal would be subject to consultation, the letter added.

Initial details of the proposed move to replace the preregistration year were announced by HEE and NHSE on 23 July 2020. The foundation year would “form the fifth year of a continuum of pharmacist initial education and training”, beginning in summer 2021 “subject to further consideration”, the organisations said.

The GPhC has been consulting on wide-ranging reform of initial education and training standards for pharmacists, with proposals centred on a single set of standards for an integrated, five-year programme featuring greater integration of academic study and experiential learning. The letter from the regulator and the CPOs stated that the GPhC has now reconvened a working group “to inform the final set of revised IE&T [initial education and training] standards”. It is “now developing a plan to finalise the revised standards and reform the five years of initial education and training in light of the proposals”, it went on to say.

The letter added: “Mindful of the need for reform to move at pace, and pragmatically, there was a good opportunity for the desired outcomes to be achieved through a model which builds on the existing four-year MPharm degree and one-year training.”

In a response to the HEE and NHSE announcement, published on 28 July 2020, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said it supported “the principles of initial education reform as set out by the GPhC and discussed at the UK Pharmacy Education Governance Oversight Board”, and agreed that independent prescribing should be an outcome of the foundation year.

The RPS also said that more experiential learning was required in the first four years of pharmacy education and training, “which must be adequately resourced”; and that existing programmes “such as the five year integrated programme in Scotland and national foundation pharmacist training programme must be woven into the reform programme”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208221

Readers' comments (1)

  • I have mixed feeling about this. This is great for our profession as it highlights pharmacist are able to prescribe as they have a great deal of knowledge of the pharmacology of medication and physiology of many chronic conditions/minor ailments. However, your pre reg year teaches you many valuable skills/knowledge that cannot be taught in a simulated environment (OSCEs), I therefore do not see this as a good proposal. In addition, despite current standards of teaching a real lack of experience in this area is probably going to open many pharmacist up ftp cases if this proposal goes through.

    We should stick to the current guidelines of pre reg year, 2 years of practice and then IP qualification.

    In addition, doing this will destabilise the current wage rate of an IP pharmacist. It has already noticeably dropped. The same thing that happened in community pharmacy will happen to IP pharmacist... Be expected to work for £19hr as an IP pharmacist in the future.

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