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BPSA renews call to boost number of pre-reg places

Lottie Bain: Students would benefit from a placement split over "two or three" sites

British Pharmaceutical Students' Association president Lottie Bain says the number and location of placements should be "mapped" to the sector's needs

The British Pharmaceutical Students' Association (BPSA) has renewed its call to increase the number of pre-registration placements, in an echo of recommendations in a government-commissioned report.

The "expansion" of pharmacy roles makes it "logical" to increase the number of placements, and a higher proportion should involve time in a GP practice, BPSA president Lottie Bain told C+D on Wednesday (August 5).

Ms Bain made the comments in response to a report by independent body the Primary Care Workforce Commission last month (July 22), which called for an increase in the number of pre-registration placements "to meet the enhanced role of pharmacists". These placements should include experience in hospitals and general practice, as well as in community pharmacies, the commission said.

Ms Bain said the BPSA is "already advocating" an increase in the number of "split" pre-reg placements, which take place in "two or even three" sites. "These have a huge number of benefits, including exposure to a variety of settings [and] a better understanding of how care can be be integrated across these settings," she said.

"Split" placements would allow students to spend six months in GP surgeries, which could prove beneficial considering "there may be barriers to trainees spending a full 12 months at the site", she said. Ms Bain also voiced support for more placements in industrial and academic settings, which could
 "help produce a pharmacy workforce with a greater focus on research".

The "vast majority" of existing pre-reg placements are restricted to either the community or hospital sectors, and placements in general practice are "very rare", Ms Bain stressed. "There must be more placements available in primary care settings if we expect increasing numbers of pharmacists to work in this area in future," she added.

In the Primary Care Workforce Commission report – designed to highlight innovative models of primary care – it called for a “greater involvement of clinical pharmacists” in managing patients with long-term conditions and those in care homes. Greater use should also be made of community pharmacists to manage minor ailments, with "agreed protocols for treatment and referral between local pharmacist and GP organisations", it added. 


How would pre-reg placements in GP surgeries benefit pharmacists?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Susan M Shepherd, Community pharmacist

Pre-reg training is introduction to the basic requirements of being a pharmacist, in the same way that passing your driving test is only the beginning of learning to drive. A short period (one-two weeks) during the year can be used to obtain a brief understanding of the type of role available, but would depend upon a surgery having a practice pharmacist available to work with the student. The development of additional skills, such as independent prescribing, advanced clinincal specialities and working in GP practices should only be undertaken once the basics hve been mastered.

Lancelot Spratt, Accuracy checking technician

Why? Surely one of the main problems in pharmacy is a lack of career progression. Restricting students and newly qualified to community and hospital settings makes more sense thus allowing them to gain experience where they can learn the basics of pharmacy in the real world. Only after a period of training and the acquisition of an IP qualification should they move into GP practices. At the same time you can increase wages to allow for the greater knowledge required, in the same way that hospital pharmacists increase their wages as they acquire knowledge and experience. Any other way just reduces pharmacy as a profession to the lowest salary scale with no recognition for skills, knowledge or experience and means there is no career progression.

Jonathon Churchill, Locum pharmacist

there should be a nationa scheme like NES in scotland to ensure common standards are adhered to etc

M Yang, Community pharmacist

The NES in Scotland provides common standards but they only do so much. From personal experience, during my pre reg at Boots I had a pragmatic tutor who was generally very good. However the pharmacist manager was very keen that I toe the company line. I was smart enough to know that I had to at least look like I as doing this if I wanted to be signed off as competent. Some of my friends had experiences where they had terrible tutors. So, standards may be useful but it's all down to who you have as a tutor. In some ways, it's luck of the draw, much like the apprenticeships of old.

Chris ., Community pharmacist

The bpsa should not be making comments like this. Mayhe some of the executive (made of up of students and new qualified) are struggling to get a pre reg place or their mates are? Why are c & d bothering to publish statements from them?

Michael Champion, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I'm sure C&D "bother to publish [BPSA] statements" because they have a mandate to represent the views of MPharm students and pre-registration trainees across Great Britain, who will make up the future workforce in the health sector. Their policy statements stem from motions debated and voted on by members at their Annual Conference, and the aim of any Executive mandate is to enact these policies. The real concern is that, in the foreseeable future, students that entered an MPharm degree with the intent of registering, will be prevented not by incompetence, but by the unsustainable nature of current training provision.

Chris ., Community pharmacist

Have you been to one of these annual conferences recently and seen how the BPSA ('executive') is run from the inside?

Michael Champion, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Should have clarified - I am currently in my second year of work on the Executive. If you have any questions about how the Executive works, please don't hesitate to get in touch; our contact information is available on the BPSA's website,

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Why? There is no mileage in the profession. 20k per annum in a dead end job where you could be prosecuted for a mistake borne out of the deplorable working conditions. Unless it's about producing lots of cheap labour for the multiples I see no point in more places. In fact the call should be for closing down Pharmacy Schools or warning students what awaits them. Maybe Lottie Bain is a shareholder in one of these multiples?

Michael Champion, Pre-reg Pharmacist

As with every healthcare profession, there is mileage when professionals (current and future) are able and willing to change. If maintaining the sustainability of the pharmacy workforce is a primary goal, then it follows that there should be sustainable training provision to allow those competent graduates wanting to practice as pharmacists to be able to complete their training. In a rapidly developing healthcare system where new models of care provision are being utilised, there needs to be a sustainable supply of these registered professionals, something that an increase in "split" and conventional pre-registration training placements will facilitate.

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