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Interim foundation programme launches for pre-regs in England

The new interim foundation pharmacist programme (IFPP) is now open for registrations for pre-regs, Health Education England (HEE) has announced.

The programme, which was established to support pre-registration pharmacists whose education was disrupted due to COVID-19, opened for applications yesterday (August 17).

The 12-month training programme is open to the 2019/20 cohort of pre-registration pharmacists and begins in September. It was first announced by HEE and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) in a letter to pre-registration trainees last month (July 23).

The interim foundation programme – which is being introduced in England only – is not mandatory and enrolling on the IFPP is not a requirement of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) assessment, HEE said.

The IFPP is designed to “support provisionally registered pharmacists in England transition to full GPhC registration and beyond”, develop their ability to achieve “high quality outcomes for patients and improve patient safety” and “inform the next stage of pharmacist education and reform”, HEE added.

The interim programme does not incorporate an independent prescribing qualification. However, “as the programme develops, it is hoped that elements of training are incorporated to help pharmacists develop the skills they need to prepare for future prescribing roles”, according to the IFPP registration page

On completion of the programme, pharmacists will receive a “statement of progression” Health Education England (HEE) said.

Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies CEO Leyla Hannbeck told C+D today (August 18) that the programme is “a positive step for the profession”.

“Any scheme that develops the skill sets of future pharmacists is a positive one. As the programme moves forward, we are keen to see the community pharmacy sector [treated] as an equal to other parts of the profession – such as hospitals,” she added.

Proposed permanent changes

In the letter on July 23, HEE and NHSE&I also suggested that from the summer of 2021, the current pre-reg year could be replaced by a one-year foundation programme, which would be considered the fifth year of a “continuum of pharmacist initial education and training”.

One aim of the proposed reform – which will be discussed with “a broad range of stakeholders”, before being implemented – is for all “new registrants to be independent prescribers”, as outlined in a letter from the GPhC, the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland and the four UK chief pharmaceutical officers last month (July 28).

Last week (August 14), the Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) issued a statement in support of the proposed reforms.

“In particular, the provision of a greater level of continuity from undergraduate recruitment through to advanced practice is very welcome,” PhSC chair Professor Duncan Craig said.

In addition to the one-year foundation programme proposed by HEE and NHSE&I , the PhSC is also recommending a second foundation year, “following registration”. This additional year would “facilitate advanced practice as appropriate for the practitioner and the sector in which they choose to work”, it said.

Other recommendations made by the PhSC include a “revision of the MPharm to ensure development of clinical and behavioural skills, compatible with recognised prescribing competencies”.

What do you make of the interim foundation pharmacist programme?

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