Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login


Education and training

Pharmacists to be offered training to become doctors, NHS England chief executive says

Following Brexit and subsequent deregulation to create “a more flexible” NHS, pharmacists may be able to transition to becoming doctors through extra training.

busy gp waiting room


Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has suggested that pharmacists may soon be able to train to become doctors, following Brexit

Pharmacists are set to be given the opportunity to become doctors through extra training, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has said.

Speaking at NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester on 4 September 2019, Stevens said that pharmacists would be able to become doctors with additional training, following a probable loosening of professional regulatory rules after Brexit.

He added that this would create “a more flexible, more permeable” NHS organisation.

His comments come as Sajid Javid, the chancellor, committed to increasing the Health Education England (HEE) budget for 2020/2021 — including £150m for continuing professional development — in his annual spending review, which was also announced on 4 September 2019.

Stevens said the HEE budget presented a “more realistic settlement for education and training budgets”. He added that the extra funding was “welcome” because while the NHS has recruited 100,000 additional staff over the past five years, “we still have 100,000 vacancies”.

“We are going to have to do more to look after the staff we currently have across the health service,” he said. “We also need more routes into training. We need to become a more flexible, more permeable organisation.”

He continued: “We’re going to have to use some of the new flexibilities that we may have if we’re not subject to some of the EU professional regulation rules, to think about, for example, opportunities for pharmacists, who after all have done four years’ worth of clinical training, if they wish to convert or add on to become qualified doctors.”

Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said the RPS wanted to keep pharmacists delivering the unique work that they do on behalf of patients.

”I could have applied to medical school, but I’m proud to say that my only plan was to become a pharmacist,” she said.

“Simon Stevens would be better advised to look at how NHS England can make better use of pharmacists and their skills.”


Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207031

Readers' comments (3)

  • I think this is a fantastic suggestion. After working as a community pharmacist for three years I feel that I have only used about 10% of my clinical knowledge. 90% of the time I am just checking and bagging medication. I think is a shame that after 5 years of training I am doing a job which a qualified ACT can do just as well. I think it is a fantastic idea to provide this opportunity to pharmacist who want to become a doctor.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I had the opportunity to study medicine but I choosed pharmacy as I was always interested in how drugs can modify the body physiology to manage chronic diseases. I have been working as clinical pharmacist in a GP practice for 3 years now and I am now competent to prescribe from all BNF, and oatients now asking to see me, I am now able to do referrals, and full access to request any further investigations needed for diagnoses plus can carry out physical examinations. So I am doing what GP doctor can do but without been paid as well as them, just because they are not physicians!, I believe NHS England can invest in Pharmacists to become GP Pharmacists and give them the title of Dr as this title not only for physicians.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is a tremendous suggestion for Pharmacist who are willing to become doctor. I believe NHS can invest in Pharmacist to become GP/DR as they are competent to prescribe and see the patient as well. By doing this, work load of having long queues of patient will reduce.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.