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C+D readers back calls to limit student numbers

People C+D readers have overwhelmingly backed calls for a limit on the number of pharmacy students, in response to an academic who claimed that restrictions would be “detrimental on a wider scale”.

C+D readers have backed calls to limit the number of pharmacy students, in response to an academic who claimed that restrictions would be "detrimental on a wider scale".

Eighty-five per cent of nearly 200 respondents to a C+D poll said that places at pharmacy schools should be limited, while only 15 per cent said the situation should be left to resolve itself.

As C+D reported last week (November 7), Kevin Smith, a lecturer in genetics and bioethics at Abertay University, accused Pharmacy Schools Council chair John Smart and British Pharmacy Students Association president Vikesh Kakad of "special pleading". They claimed students could be left "stranded" and "unable to complete their education" without managed supply and demand of pharmacists.

Eighty-five per cent of C+D readers polled said that places at pharmacy schools should be strictly limited

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"Unless the profession's trade bodies manage (as they surely will) to fix salaries artificially, the economics of supply and demand would gradually drive down the remuneration of pharmacists to a more reasonable and socially beneficial level," Mr Smith wrote in a letter to the Times Higher Education magazine.

Readers hit back at the accusations on C+D's website, questioning whether Mr Smith was aware of the impact increasing student numbers could have on the profession.

"Continued increases in graduate numbers added to the free movement of EU pharmacists, increasing retirement ages and reductions in the number of PCT pharmacists has created a pretty dire situation," said a community pharmacist posting as C Farrell.

"The only beneficiaries are the multiples – which have a plethora of pharmacists to choose from – driving down salaries and [allowing] them to impose worsening terms and conditions and working practices," they added.

Community pharmacist Raymond Lee said that producing more pharmacists than was required would be "detrimental to the profession as a whole". "There has to be a sensible and logical debate on student numbers," he wrote on the C+D website. "All healthcare professions have a limited number of students – eg dental schools have around 60 to 70 students per year."

But some readers did see merit in Mr Smith's argument. "I see the points of both sides of the argument," said hospital pharmacist Gordan Adamson. "It saddens me so many young graduates have little prospect in their chosen careers."

Do you think there should be a limit to pharmacy student numbers?

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Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

well, suprise suprise ! Maybe if the UK followed examples like USA, Australia and Canada and protected the interest of highly skilled professionals who are educated in the native language and trained upto the required standard we wouldnt be discussing such a stupid issue like this !

For USA / Canada and Australia all foreign trained pharmacists have to sit an english exam and have their skills and knowledge tested before they can step foot into a pharmacy. Now compare this with the current system in place in the UK enough said.

I'm so glad I can think outside the box, I've passed my english exam and am sitting my exams for USA / Canada and Australia.

Does anyone actually know the importance of being a British pharmacist, it is so highly valued (in the rest of the world ) that you can acquire new citizenship with it !

Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

surprise ....

Milan Amin, Superintendent Pharmacist

The answer is simple.If you do not increase demand,then the over supply will turn the profession into tea plantation pickers working for their masters...The "bhwana" will be the greengrocer.Be aware.

Jide Opaleke, Locum pharmacist

With the current situation of oversupply of pharmacists. Is there any real justification for control of entry or even from the government point of view, the protected practice allowance when the natural law of demand and supply will now protect the areas that "arguably?" be deprived of pharmaceutical services as "no pharmacist will like to operate there?". Can we really balance these views "more pharmacists but limited service outlets" JUST DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.

A Stevens, Locum pharmacist

like most locums i too am struggling to find work.

unfortuantely there are too many pharmacists, too many fish too small a pool

this itself brings many many problems, like fearing to make a fuss for the fear of job safety.

also currently there is almost a north/south divide in pharmacist earnings, some take home a substantial weekly wage whilst others get by with just one day a week.

whats driving this is pure and simple greed. i know of people that as an example are managers lets say for example at one supermarket (A) , who have friends who are managers at other rival supermarkets(B). they do there manager hours at there own respective stores and then swap locum shifts at each others stores this means they get there 39 hours at the stores they manage with an additional 24 hours locum work at each others stores- us poor locums get one day a week yet some pharmacist get there stable managers wage together with some 'organised' cartel locum shiftwork

so what is the solution?
here is what i propose - our respective bodies eg: GPHC begin to supervise and impose restrictions on the number of hours pharmacist can do

that is all pharmacists can not work more than 50hours / week -
and a maximum of 10 hours per day

pharmacists that exceed tis may face discplinary

this will help create a fairer playing field, more pharmacists will get the chance to get at least some work, instead of the cartel/network of a few hoarding it between themselves.

i so hope someone takes this idea up and builds on it

Neil G, Locum pharmacist

I guess the real question is who is going to tackle this very serious threat to our profession??

Anyone game to take it on?

I don't think its likely that anyone is actually going to do anything about it. Agree with Clive below. Its likely to take years.

I personally feel its already too late. Find a some money and after the storm is over we'll be ok again!

If however some brave soul wants to tackle it - i'm pretty sure we will all back it!!


Gordon Adamson, Hospital pharmacist

mmm, I feel slightly misqoted here. I never said that I agreed with the current situation at all. Actually, I suggested solutions to improving qualify of pharmacist cadigates and ensuring supply meets demand of the profession creating a better workforce/stable profession for the future.

Summary - increase job opportunities for pharmacy graduates in different sectors (particularly industry & accadaemia), coinsiding with an increase in requirements to course entry /qualify as a pharmacist as a means of achieving this. Additionally integrating pre-reg year with the undergrad pharmacy course, only allowing the those with a average of >65% to undertake pre-reg year.

Harnek Chera, Community pharmacist

In any trade or profession, over supply works nicely to begin with because it increases competition and is a major force in driving down costs and may even improve quality for a short period. Mid to long term however, it breeds discontent, de-motivates and reduces quality output because of a dog-eat-dog mentality.What is needed is a steady supply for newly qualified pharmacists to equate to the number retiring and stop or have quotas on the influx of EU pharmacists which is also creating an in-balance.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

The problem is that it will probably take years for anything to be done about reducing student admissions to Pharmacy degrees and a quite few more years more for that to take effect.

I am not aware of any mechanism that could be used to reduce the influx of EU Pharmacists who will continue come as long as our wages and employment prospects are better than their own country.

Meanwhile the foreign owned multiples will be jumping for joy at the prospect of ever cheaper Pharmacists.

A perfect storm is coming for the individual Pharmacist.

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