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Reform could 'aim' for new pharmacists to be independent prescribers

Newly registered pharmacists could qualify as independent prescribers when completing the one-year foundation training expected to replace the pre-reg year in 2021.

Under proposals outlined by NHS England and Improvement and Health Education England (HEE) last week (July 23), the pre-registration year could be replaced by a one-year foundation training from July 2021.

Through this reform, which would apply across the UK, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the four UK chief pharmaceutical officers (CPOs) envisage “new registrants to be independent prescribers”, they wrote in a letter published yesterday (July 28).

This would be “one aim” of the foundation year, which will be “be subject to appropriate consultation” and will consider “each country’s circumstances”, they added.

Demand for pharmacist practitioners

Pharmacists’ roles have “evolved quickly” in the last 10 years and there is a “significant and growing” demand for “clinical, patient-facing pharmacist practitioners”, GPhC CEO Duncan Rudkin, PSNI CEO Trevor Patterson, Scotland CPO Rose Marie Parr, Wales CPO Andrew Evans, England CPO Keith Ridge and Northern Ireland CPO Cathy Harrison wrote in the letter.

The reform to introduce a one-year foundation training scheme will support pharmacists at the beginning of their careers “through a structured work-based approach that embeds knowledge, skills, abilities, values, attitudes and beliefs in their practice”, they added.

The training will equip new pharmacists with the skills necessary to “take on extended clinical roles” and work across different sectors and with other healthcare professionals, they said

The GPhC is finalising the revised standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists in Great Britain and PSNI is carrying out parallel work in Northern Ireland, the letter explained

“Once the standards are finalised”, the reforms for a “continuum of five years of education and training” will be introduced in July 2021, with a “phased approach to implementation”, the regulators said.

In England only, provisionally registered pharmacists and pre-regs who are signed off as eligible for provisional registration will complete an interim foundation pharmacist programme, starting in September this year.

This is a “vocational training programme”, during which provisionally registered pharmacists will “use work-based experiences and reflection to identify areas of good practice and further development opportunities”, HEE director of national transformational programmes Alan Ryan told C+D today (July 29).

Provisionally registered pharmacists will not be asked to take “hours out of practice for training” and there will be a focus on online resources to “enable a flexible delivery and access to content” and help pre-regs “balance personal development while working”, Mr Ryan added.

What do you make of the regulators' proposals?

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