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Trainee prescribers: GPhC to allow ‘virtual supervision’ by DPPs

The pharmacy regulator will allow designated prescribing practitioners (DPPs) to virtually supervise trainee prescribing pharmacists “where appropriate” as it tries to ensure there are “enough” supervisors ahead of 2025/26, it has revealed.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) will allow “virtual supervision” of trainees by DPPs ahead of the introduction of prescribing at the point of registration for trainee pharmacists in 2025/26, according to its June council papers released today (June 11).

In a report prepared by the regulator’s advisory group for the initial education and training of pharmacists ahead of its June 13 council meeting, the advisory group reported to the council that it has devoted “considerable work” to ensuring there are “enough” DPPs.

Read more: CCA urges NHSE to publish full list of DPPs amid ‘risk’ to trainee placements

In addition to “virtual supervision…where appropriate”, the advisory group said that DPPs will be able to “supervise a number of different trainees during the year”, be based in a different sector to the trainee and can complete the 90 hours of prescribing training “in different blocks of time”.

From 2025/26 - when the changes will come into effect - NHS England (NHSE) has said that all foundation trainees “must have access to a DPP and a prescribing learning environment”.

But the sector has issued repeated warnings of an ongoing shortage of DPPs.


“Further work” required


The advisory group said that the implementation of the foundation training year that will “come into full effect in 2025/26” had been its “principal focus” in recent meetings. 

It added that it will soon be ceding “responsibility for delivery of the training and the design, management and monitoring” to the so-called “statutory education bodies”: NHS England Workforce, Training and Education (NHSE WTE) pharmacy team, NHS Education for Scotland (NHS ES) and Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW).

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

The advisory group said that the statutory bodies had made “very good progress” in developing their plans, with NHS ES and HEIW already accredited by the GPhC and NHSE WTE to be accredited in July.

However, it flagged that “further work” was required “primarily in England” to recruit DPPs, reduce DPP assessment burdens and to assuage “the concerns of some community pharmacies” that if supervision entails “a significant additional workload” they would not participate.


Sign-off “anxiety”


The advisory group noted “some anxiety” around the procedures by which a DPP can “sign off” a trainee pharmacist.

It confirmed that DPPs and designated supervisors are responsible for “providing formal confirmation that a trainee has met the relevant learning outcomes”.

Read more: IP: Trainee pharmacists must have clinical prescribing area from 2025/26

However, it said that this would not be done “in isolation”, as “other healthcare professionals” can be “involved in their sign-off”

The statutory bodies are responsible for ensuring that the supervision and signoff standards are met, it added. 


DPP drama


Last month, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) demanded that NHSE provide “a list of all organisations” that have spare DPPs as it voiced “grave concerns” that “pharmacies will be unable to secure” them.

The CCA said at the time that NHSE has “repeatedly assured” it that “there are sufficient DPPs within the system” but that pharmacies “cannot find” them.

Read more: New year, new DPP

The same month, an NHSE official 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.

And in March, C+D learned that a lack of DPPs meant that Well Pharmacy will be offering 75% less English foundation trainee places to the 2025/26 cohort.

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