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HEE pharmacist mental health training programme extended for two years

A mental health training programme for pharmacists has been extended for another two years, Health Education England (HEE) has announced.

The “specialist mental health pharmacist training pathway” was developed in 2021 and aims to develop the skills and experience of pharmacists working in new community mental health service roles.

Delivered as a partnership between HEE and the University of Bradford, the first cohort of 50 pharmacists will complete their training next month.

Read more: Community pharmacy is uniquely placed to help tackle the mental health crisis

HEE yesterday (February 8) announced that it will now fund the pathway for another two years, extending training to another 70 “experienced” pharmacists per year.

The University of Bradford will work with Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust to deliver the 12-month programme to “support the journey to advanced level practice for experienced pharmacists”, HEE said.

Applications are now open until 9pm on March 5.


“Evaluated and improved” course


The course will develop pharmacists’ knowledge of medicines optimisation, initiation and personalisation for patients with complex mental illnesses, HEE added.

It is made up of 10 modules looking at physical and mental health knowledge, skills and assessments, it said.

Read more: HEE and Beat launch eating disorder training for pharmacy teams

Pharmacy dean at HEE South East Shane Costigan said: “We are delighted to be building on the success of the first cohort of the training pathway and to be working with the team at the University of Bradford to support the development of more pharmacists working in community mental health teams to deliver integrated, patient centred care to people with severe mental illness.” 

Read more: HEE launches funded pharmacy technician leadership training

NHS England national speciality adviser for mental health pharmacy Matthew Elswood added that the extended training offer “is a very positive and welcome development”.

“We have evaluated and improved the training to ensure our workforce has the best support available to meet the challenges of optimising the use of medicines for people with severe and enduring mental illness,” he said.


Who is eligible?


HEE set out that candidates enrolling in the programme must:

  • Be an “experienced” pharmacist registered with the GPhC
  • Be working within a community/primary care mental health team (CMHT)
  • Be working with patients with severe mental illness
  • Be employed within the NHS or through an NHS-commissioned mental health service
  • Have a “written declaration of support” from their line manager
  • Have agreed ongoing work-based educational supervision/clinical supervision from a mental health specialist employed by a mental health provider organisation
  • Complete the programme application form
  • Agree to undertake a “gateway training needs analysis, facilitated by the education provider, at the beginning of the programme”

Read more: Funded programme for newly-qualified pharmacists open for registration

“Many of the students on this pathway will already have experience in mental health or have completed some postgraduate qualifications to enhance understanding of the sector,” the University of Bradford said.

“The pathway will provide a basis for a refresher of some of the fundamentals of mental health whilst also focusing on the pillars of advanced practice,” it added. 

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