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Education and training

Scottish five-year pharmacy degree will not begin in 2020, government confirms

Exclusive: A spokesperson for the Scottish government has told The Pharmaceutical Journal  that work on the five-year pharmacy degree is “ongoing”.

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The Scottish government is considering the General Pharmaceutical Council’s consultation on standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists in its preparation of a five-year pharmacy degree

The five-year integrated pharmacy training will not start in Scotland in September 2020, the Scottish government has confirmed.

In a scoping report, published in April 2017, the government said that the new degree in Scotland “could commence implementation from 2020/2021”.

However, a spokesperson for the government told The Pharmaceutical Journal that “work is ongoing” on the new degree, adding that they could not give a “precise indication of timing” as to when it would be implemented in the country’s two pharmacy schools.

The ongoing work includes “identifying a range of options to deliver a five-year programme and modelling the funding implications of any changes to the current model of pharmacy initial education,” the spokesperson said.

They added that the government is also factoring in the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC’s) consultation on standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists into its “wider considerations”, as well as the introduction of Pharmacy Additional Cost of Teaching (ACTp) resources in Scotland.

In March 2019, the Scottish government announced that under the ACTp scheme, £2.85m would be set aside to expand experiential learning opportunities for pharmacy undergraduates in Scotland.

Spokespeople from the two Scottish schools of pharmacy — Robert Gordon University and the University of Strathclyde  — confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal  that the five-year degree would not start in 2020. 

In identical statements, the two universities said they were still involved in discussions on “four work streams of admissions, programme development, governance and finance related to the five-year integrated degree”.

They added that NHS Education for Scotland, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and Community Pharmacy Scotland were also involved in the discussions, and a report will be sent to the chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland. 

Gail Fleming, director for education and professional development at the RPS, said: “The approach being taken in Scotland is eminently pragmatic and should support the development of a new programme that is truly collaborative, adequately resourced and produces future pharmacists that will be skilled clinicians with a solid, underpinning science base”.

Scottish plans for an integrated five-year degree began ahead of, and separately from, the GPhC’s consultation on the initial education and training of pharmacists, which ran from January to April 2019.

Among other recommendations, the GPhC consultation proposed a single set of standards covering the five-year period of pharmacy education and preregistration training, with greater integration between academic study and practical preregistration experience

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20207731

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