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GPhC flags potential shortage of prescribing supervisors for trainees

There might be an “insufficient” number of designated prescribing practitioners (DPP) to supervise pharmacy trainees during the new foundation training year, the GPhC has warned.

Under proposals that would apply across the UK, outlined by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) and Health Education England (HEE) in July, the pre-registration year would be replaced by a foundation training year at the end of which pharmacists would be also signed off as independent prescribers.

The GPhC advisory group for the initial education and training (IET) of pharmacists is currently working on updating the IET standards.

In a document detailing the draft IET standards, submitted to the GPhC ahead of its council meeting today (November 12), the advisory group highlighted some areas “where more detailed thinking” is needed.

It expressed concerns that the number of DDPs – professionals who meet a set of GPhC criteria that make them suitable for supporting the learning of other healthcare professionals – might be “insufficient…to supervise and sign-off trainees in the foundation training year”. 

The group also flagged that there might be “limited opportunity in some settings for individuals to prescribe and a consequent risk if they were not using their skills on a regular basis”.

A review of the final standards is expected to take place at the next GPhC council meeting.

Draft standards and independent prescribing

The draft standards “incorporate the aim” for people completing the MPharm degree and the foundation year to become independent prescribers, according to the GPhC papers.

However, the advisory group said it will complete “further work” to ensure that the standards “reflect more clearly” that prescribing skills are an integral part of the learning during the five years of study.

The draft standards also include the requirement for trainees to be supervised by a DDP “for the specific elements of the year five curriculum where the trainee is prescribing”.

During the foundation training year – 52 weeks of practical training – students will be expected to complete “90 hours of supervised practice directly related to training to be an independent prescriber”, which is in line with the GPhC’s 2019 standards for the education and training of pharmacist independent prescribers.

“While training in practice for independent prescribing, the trainee will learn to prescribe under the supervision of a DDP”, according to the draft IET standards.

In September, NHSE&I chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge said the NHS was working on a training framework for currently registered community pharmacists, which includes “independent prescribing”.

In August, the Scottish government announced its intention to establish a national foundation programme and independent prescriber (IP) career pathway for community pharmacists, with the first cohort likely to start in September 2021.

Do you share the advisory group's concerns?

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