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NHSE: New ARRS funding is a ‘lever’ to support DPP capacity

An NHS England (NHSE) pharmacy dean has said that new funding for PCNs available through the ARRS scheme will boost DPP numbers in preparation for 2025/26.

From 2025/26, NHSE has said that all foundation trainees “must have access to a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) and a prescribing learning environment”.

But an ongoing shortage of DPPs has proved problematic for the sector, with C+D revealing in March that the requirement had led Well Pharmacy to slash its trainee numbers by 75% in England.

Now, an NHSE spokesperson has said that a new funding opportunity through the primary care network (PCN) additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) will be a “new lever” to support pharmacy “supervisory capacity” in the build up to 2025/26.

Read more: NHSE backs £1.5m scheme to ‘expand’ London MPharm placements

NHSE pharmacy dean for workforce training and education in the South West Nick Haddington made the comments at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress (CPC) last week (May 10), after NHSE’s chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) David Webb announced the update earlier that day.

Haddington said that the new funding can be used to “support pharmacy technicians and pharmacists to become education supervisors”.

It is also “an opportunity for [PCNs] to have some resource to support DPP time,” he added.

Read more: Well Pharmacy to slash trainee places by 75% in England

And he said that PCNs can also use the funding to “employ a trainee pharmacy technician”, providing a “new route” to training for the profession.

He stressed that the new funding is “not a golden bullet that's going to solve all of our problems” but is “another lever”.

Read more: CPhO: Pharmacy First is ‘significant improvement’ to NHS care

“It’s a new opportunity to get some additional resource within integrated care systems (ICSs) to create that supervisory capacity that we're going to need in 2025/26,” he said.

Haddington acknowledged that one of the “major challenges” that NHSE is “tackling at the moment” is ensuring that “everything is in place” by 2025/26.

 

Additional 3,000 funded IP course places

 

Speaking in another CPC session, Webb also announced that NHSE will continue to fund pharmacist independent prescribing (IP) course places in 2024/25, with another 3,000 spots up for grabs next year.

The places will be offered to community pharmacy as well as the rest of the pharmacy sector including NHS hospitals, general practice and PCNs, an NHSE spokesperson clarified.

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

Independent prescribing training will form part of the curriculum for trainee pharmacists from 2025-2026, meaning that all newly qualified pharmacists will be independent prescribers on the day of registration from September 2026.

In January, it was revealed that both general practices and PCNs will be eligible for “lead employer” trainee pharmacist funding in 2025/26 and that there will be a new “nominated prescribing area” requirement for trainees undertaking the mandatory IP training.

Meanwhile, Webb also told conference delegates that the Pharmacy First service is a “significant improvement in access to NHS patient care” amid warnings it has left the sector in “survival mode”.

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