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.