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GPhC to consider ‘interim measures’ for new pharmacists to prescribe

“Interim measures” could help foundation year pharmacists “move quickly into prescribing” after they qualify in 2022, the GPhC has told C+D.

Pharmacists completing the foundation training year in 2022 will not be registered as independent prescribers at the point of registration – which is one of the aims of the newly approved standards for the initial education and training (IET) of pharmacists – General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) CEO Duncan Rudkin told C+D earlier this week (December 14).

This is because “prescribing is not an add-on” and “preparation for acquiring prescribing-related skills… is something that needs to be integrated through the five-year programme”, Mr Rudkin added.

However, he said the GPhC will work with its partners to introduce the “key change in terms of prescribing at the earliest opportunity” without having to wait six years following the introduction of the new IET standards, which will see a “continuum of five years of education and training” from September next year.

The GPhC will need to understand how “quickly we can implement prescribing for new registrants” and, “for those who are already in training and already qualified, how can we enable them to [proceed into] prescribing safely but also as quickly as possible, perhaps with an interim phase but sitting alongside the longer-term change”.

During the first half of next year, the council will work with partners to consider whether some “interim measures” could move new pharmacists “quickly into prescribing” but in “a safe way, so that people can feel confident going through prescribing”, Mr Rudkin added.

Last week (December 10), the GPhC approved the new pharmacist IET standards, which will make prescribing skills an “integral part” of pharmacists’ training.

Need for pharmacist independent prescribers

GPhC chair Nigel Clarke, who also spoke during the call with C+D earlier this week, said the move to prescribing is “not something we at the GPhC are pushing”.

Rather, the regulator is “responding to the wish of people employing pharmacists, especially the NHS, who made it very clear to us that they really want to see this in place in terms of training and as a sort of core skill for pharmacists going forward”, Mr Clarke said.

“I think that much of the speed of work around this has been because the NHS wants to see pharmacists playing this role to a much greater degree. That’s why we wouldn’t be waiting six years to see this happening, we need to be doing it quicker and need to work closely with a lot of people to ensure this can be done safely,” he added.

Mr Rudkin said the GPhC is seeing a growing demand for “clinically-minded pharmacists who are able to prescribe” across Great Britain and while the recently approved IET will “apply to the new entrants to the profession”, the council will also work to understand how pharmacists who have already qualified can benefit from a shift towards prescribing.

The GPhC will also work to overcome the challenge flagged in November by its IET advisory group – which suggested there might be an “insufficient” number of designated prescribing practitioners to supervise pharmacy trainees during the new foundation training year, Mr Rudkin said.

Other changes to the IET standards include the introduction of a foundation training year – which will replace the pre-registration year – greater emphasis on the application of science in clinical practice and a focus on key skills such as diagnostic and consultation abilities.

The new standards will “inform” pharmacy schools from next year, Mr Clarke told C+D.

What do you make of the new IET standards for pharmacists?

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