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HEE tenders £500k contract to train pharmacy prescribing supervisors

Health Education England (HEE) has tendered a contract worth £500,000 for the training of supervisors for independent prescriber (IP) pharmacists.

A contract notice published last week (March 29) announced that HEE is “inviting bidders to submit a tender response to develop/provide training to support supervisors' development for the pharmacy workforce”.

Read more: HEE to fund 3,000 independent prescribing places in 2023/24

It added that HEE’s national pharmacy programme is looking for one or more providers to “develop and deliver” training to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from community pharmacy backgrounds across England.

This is to “ensure that designated supervisors (DS) and designated prescribing practitioners (DPP) are trained, competent and confident to provide support”, it said.

 

July contract launch

 

The contract for the community pharmacy “education supervisor training”, which will run from July 1 this year until June 30 2024, is valued at £500,000, the notice said.

It is currently open for applications until 12pm on May 12, it added.

But it remains unclear how many training places will be available.

Read more: Independent prescribing: Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

It comes as the demand for DPPs is set to increase, with all newly qualified pharmacists set to be IPs from September 2026.

In February, HEE announced that it would fund pharmacist IP training for an additional year, with “almost 3,000 places” up for grabs, with eligibility criteria including the support of an identified DPP.

Read more: 'The push for independent prescribing must not just be a tick box exercise’

A pharmacist training to be a prescriber needs 90 hours of supervised practice by a DPP to qualify, as well as an extensive portfolio of evidence.

DPPs must be practising prescribers with over three years’ experience in prescribing.

 

DPP shortage

 

But the new contract notice follows repeated warnings by pharmacists, who have raised concerns that DPPs are thin on the ground.

Read more: GPhC flags potential shortage of prescribing supervisors for trainees

The pharmacy regulator itself admitted in 2020 that there might be an “insufficient” number of DPPs to supervise pharmacy trainees.

And HEE said in June that it was working with “employers and course providers to address challenges around access to, and capacity of, prescriber supervision”.

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