Of the 202 respondents to the poll – which ran on the C+D website from April 18-26 – 160 (79%) said they do not support the introduction of a five-year pharmacist apprenticeship “under any circumstances”.
A further 32 (16%) said they were not sure, and “it would depend on the specific proposal and training provided”, while just 10 (5%) said they would be “confident in the pharmacists produced from such a scheme”.
The results come two weeks after C+D reported that a proposal for a level 7 pharmacist apprenticeship – equivalent to a master’s degree – was under consideration in a 10-day consultation launched by an employer-led public body.
The proposal prompted the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) to organise a meeting with the body behind the proposals – the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education – next week.
Commenting on the poll results this morning (April 26), PDA Union national officer Paul Day said it is no surprise that C+D readers have rejected the apprenticeship proposal.
“[It] seems to have been developed in secret, by unnamed employers, with no wider sector involvement or conversation,” he said.
He also claimed the wording in the proposal that states “pharmacists…are not required to diagnose and manage medical care” misdescribes the role of a pharmacist across all community, hospital and primary care organisations.
The PDA aims to put its concerns to the institute next week, including questioning the claim that the proposals were driven by pharmacy companies looking for solutions to workforce issues in the sector. “What skills gaps are [pharmacy employers] trying to address?” Mr Day asked.
“Apprenticeships add value to the UK economy, but there needs to be full understanding of the implications of a pharmacist apprenticeship before it is considered,” he added.
“The process so far has not done well for the credibility of the apprenticeship scheme.”
RPS meets the institute
In a statement today, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said the institute has agreed to provide “much more detail” on the proposals, after RPS members raised concerns.
The RPS expects the institute to publish an “explanatory note on apprenticeships” soon. This “needs to be followed by a full, detailed explanation of the pharmacy degree apprenticeship proposals, which must be subject to scrutiny, and opportunity provided for feedback”, it stressed.