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HEE extends offer of funded pre-reg technician training places to community pharmacy

Health Education England (HEE) has increased the number of training places for pre-registration pharmacy technicians and opened its pharmacy technician workforce expansion programme to community pharmacy for the first time.

Speaking at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress last week (September 25), HEE pharmacy technician professional lead Dalgeet Puaar told delegates the organisation is “planning to fund an additional 330 pre-registration pharmacy technician places” for pre-regs completing HEE’s Workforce Expansion Programme in 2021/22.

“For the first time, we are including community pharmacy,” Ms Puaar announced.

HEE’s Pharmacy Technician Workforce Expansion project builds on two “pilots designed to grow the pharmacy technician workforce”, the organisation wrote on its website.

Under the funded 2021/22 programme, pre-registration pharmacy technicians can complete their training placement either in a community pharmacy or “cross-sector” – with a requirement for one of the two healthcare settings to be either a community or hospital pharmacy.

Community pharmacies had until Sunday (September 26) to submit their expressions of interest.


“Huge interest” from community pharmacies


Ms Puaar told C+D that HEE’s key goal is “to increase the pharmacy technician workforce”.

“We do recognise that community pharmacy plays a big contribution to developing that workforce, so that’s why we’re including it this year,” she said.

Tracey Tisley, HEE programme manager for pharmacy, told C+D that just within her area – which covers London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex – HEE has received more than 80 expressions of interest from community pharmacy.

The programme will start this financial year once HEE allocates its funding, Ms Puaar said. The start date will be “determined by which education provision you choose”, she clarified.


“Not just money”


Ms Puaar said that HEE is planning for an “even split” of training places between the community pharmacy and cross-sector providers.

“But [the allocation of places] will be very much determined by the expressions of interest we get. We do need to have some flexibility,” she added.

HEE will provide more than the funding to develop these trainees, Ms Tisley stressed. “We will be there to offer support and guidance because we do understand that there may not be the expertise or the educational infrastructure in place for some community pharmacies to develop this role.

“We will be holding some virtual webinars for [trainees] so they can network, engage with our employers, and it’s hoped that they would share experience [with one another].

“[For instance], medicines optimisation was included within the initial education and training standards. And I know it’s a concern with some community pharmacies, how they would cover those criteria within the initial education and training standards. These networks will help them share real life experience and resources. It’s not just money,” Ms Tisley said.

A survey by the Community Pharmacy Workforce Development Group, which was carried out in July last year, found that where vacancies had been reported for pharmacy technicians, these roles were on average “open for around six months”.

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