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Five things to know about the foundation training reform

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) have recently made way for new foundation training standards and Zhyar Said breaks this down…

It has been three years since the GPhC published its Vision 2030 and five-year strategic plan. It has also published a revised Standards for the Initial Education and Training of Pharmacists (IETP). But what does this all mean?

Considering that the 2025/26 cohort will be the first to go through this new programme, and it being just over a year away, I want to highlight some of the key changes and concepts that we all need to get on board with.



Oriel applications only


The first point to discuss is getting onto the foundation training year. Up until now, trainee pharmacists could find a placement for their trainee year with or without the National Recruitment Scheme (Oriel), but this will change.

Read more: Passing the GPhC exam isn't easy, so don't be afraid to ask for help

Although it was near impossible to get any sort of hospital training without Oriel, the change will apply across all training sectors. You can no longer pop into your local pharmacy and ask for a placement and bypass the whole process – thus removing any flexibility that some trainees may have sought previously.



Funding increase


One requirement for foundation pharmacist training sites to be allowed to enter the Oriel listing, as mentioned in NHS England’s (NHSE) requirements, is that “the trainee must have access to a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) and a prescribing learning environment”.

An £8,000 hike in funding was introduced, which does not come cheap and it’s arguable whether it’s required, when high-end DPP organisers charge £3,000. This increase in funding may also exacerbate the already large pool of pharmacy contractors in community which see the trainee year as a full salary paid for their staff.

Read more: Don’t panic! What to do if you’ve failed the pharmacist registration exam

However, looking at the bigger picture, I hope that the increase in funding ultimately leads to more accessible prescribers throughout the UK.



Ready to prescribe


As previously mentioned, the training contract must include a DPP, who should, in essence, be preparing the trainee for the prescribing assessment.

Read more: Top tips for trainee pharmacists starting their placement year

The assessment includes history taking, physical and clinical examination skills, prescribing consultation and prescription writing, while also showing documentation of 90 hours of learning attributable to development as a prescriber in practice.

Will this be a massive jump for students? In my opinion, it depends on how well the universities have remodelled their degree around the GPhC standards, as these standards are in place to prepare current students for prescribing.



Are universities on board?


Rewinding a few years before the trainee year, universities are also rolling out a revised MPharm degree which is more aligned to the newer learning outcomes and standards set by the GPhC.

Read more: Top tips for pharmacy students ranking their Oriel preferences

Some universities are ditching their model dispensaries and converting them into consultation rooms, and this will form the foundation for a more confident trainee pharmacist when it comes to the newly implemented services and prescribing. This can also familiarise students with their future work settings.



Mandatory multi-sector training


Speaking of future work settings, although in the first year, a multi-sector training will not be mandatory, but it will be from 2026/27 onwards.

Although one lead employer must be identified, trainees will be required to split their training between an NHS managed sector, community pharmacy and general practice primary care.

Read more: The new trainee pharmacists arrangement: What could this mean for the future?

This is an exciting development for sure, as most trainees do not know what they want to do throughout their career and this will help them identify their interest. Too often we see people sticking to their comfort zones and never exploring outside of where they completed their training year. I can see this propelling job satisfaction rates.

By the looks of it, the new training specifications are very on brand with developments in pharmacy seeking more services and less dispensing. Exciting times are ahead of us!


Zhyar Said is the owner of a trainee pharmacist educational platform Revise Pharma, which you can also follow on Instagram @Revise_Pharma

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