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Five-year pharmacist apprenticeship proposal 'paused' for second time

The employer group wants to address some of the misconceptions about degree apprenticeships
The employer group wants to address some of the misconceptions about degree apprenticeships

The proposal for a five-year pharmacist apprenticeship scheme has been “paused” while the group behind the consultation “addresses some of the misconceptions”.

A level 7 apprenticeship, equivalent to a master’s degree, where pharmacists would train as apprentices on placements hosted by pharmacy companies, was first proposed in a consultation in April.

In May, the group overseeing the consultation, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, put the proposal on hold after deciding “further engagements should take place with sector stakeholders”.

However, not-for-profit organisation the Workforce Development Trust announced in October that the group of pharmacy employers behind the original proposal will develop a second one, “taking into account the issues and concerns that have been raised”.

In a statement sent last week (December 20) the employer group behind the proposal – which includes Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Well and Superdrug – said it has once again been “paused”.

This has been done while “further engagement is undertaken with the sector to help address some of the misconceptions about degree apprenticeships and their relationship to regulated occupations”, the group added.

“We feel that the group’s focus should be on awareness-raising with the pharmacy sector in order to dispel further misconceptions about degree apprenticeships”, the chairs of the group said.

“We will be contacting those professional bodies that have taken an avid interest to invite them to further engage with us.”

Controversial suggestion

The proposal has proved controversial. Earlier this year a C+D poll suggested four fifths of pharmacists did not support the suggestion and the original consultation, which received more than 6,000 responses, attracted much comment and social media debate.

Last month, the Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) and fellow trade union the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists said they were “disappointed and concerned” that pharmacists' views could be ignored for the second time, in response to the revival of the proposal.

While the PDA “welcomed” the pausing of the proposal last week, the organisation said it is “very mindful that [this] does not mean this second attempt to create a pharmacist apprenticeship has been abandoned”.

“The PDA will continue to represent the interests and opinions of pharmacists in this matter”, it added.

What do you make of the pharmacist apprenticeship proposal?

C A, Community pharmacist

The key points that the pharmacy degree was sold on (at least when I was attending open days) was that it was a broad science degree, it covered anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, physiology, and pharmacology, as well as pharmacy practice.  That meant graduates could pursue a career in a wide variety of fields. 

I don't see how an apprenticeship can teach students about gram-stains and microbiology, pharmaceutical analysis, via various forms of spectroscopy, and other required techniques, drug design and formulation science, through a one day a week placement?

Pharmacy practice could be learned "on the job", but how are you going to ensure that the student gets exposure to a sufficient range of situations (or scenarios) to ensure they are fully competent when they qualify? 

V K P, Community pharmacist

how about going with the tide and allowing them to run the apprenticeship. however, the trainees still have to sit the Pre-reg exam to register as a pharmacist. if someone is able to pass the exam via the apprenticeship then well done. once they are registered then its the GPhC's problem. let them cause harm to patients which the GPhC will be answerable for. 

I would like to know for certainity that the pre-reg exam will still be in place for registration. if that is not in place then there is no chance i would support this whackery. 

there is no shortage of pharmacists as far as i am aware. all the NHSE documents and the politicians keep banging on about 6,000 doctor vacancies and god knows 20,000 nurse vacancies in the next 5 years. So how about apprenticeships for these shortfalls to start immediately to prevent the shortage?????


O J, Community pharmacist

The profession is slowly but surely getting there.....

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

Eating my popcorn whilst watching from the glad I left Community at the right time.

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

Any community Pharmacist approving the apprenticeship is like a turkey voting for Christmas.

Araba Lindsay, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I cannot understand how these multiples think,which country trains pharmacist through apprenticeship.Have they all lost their minds.
I think we should start a petition and quickly too.

Joe Speedo, Community pharmacist

Thanks for the likes come on pharmacists where are those that care and love this profession see it is not about the money it is about integrity and patient safety first give more likes lets hit the 100,000 barrier come on guys we can do it let us stand together for once as one hand and agree on something that is vital to the existence of our profession or one day of this apprentice bill is passed we will look on that day and cry rivers of tears for not standing and having our say let's all say NO TO THIS NONSENSE !!!!!!!

Joe Speedo, Community pharmacist

Thanks for the likes and for the dislikes well no comment but everyone please ask your colleagues to log in and give likes so we build momentum and as our numbers increase this will have a positive impact on those decision makers where they will realize that we take our job and peoples lives seriously please spread the word around and let's all join hands and start a campaign which is simple and the campaign is NO APPRENTISHIP as this is a decisive  turning point in our profession and like what Shakespeare said to be or not to be so let's be happy Christmas all and happy new year 

Joe Speedo, Community pharmacist

Can all pharmacist reading my comments give a like so we can get the message through so those too senior people making those decisions on apprentice will wake up and get a reality check and respect us as pharmacists cause seriously we have become a laughing stock at the moment and they have no respect to our profession whatsoever thank you 

Joe Speedo, Community pharmacist

Thanks for the likes and can everyone join in with your comments as well we want a debate here so that this goes public and people know about this and how serious this matter is and of its impact on their quality of life happy Christmas and new year 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Your enthusiasim is great but I don't think anybody actually cares anymore. Save yourself and let everyone take care of themselves.

Joe Speedo, Community pharmacist

This topic about apprentice is ridiculous and most absurd thing that is being suggested why then not get anyone to be an apprentice to be a doctor lets see what will doctors think about this I guess not cause the nhs then will be more like a jungle and same with the Pharmacy profession we will be putting lives at risk is human life no value anymore to the point we play Russian roulette with it using apprentices. I am expressing my view strongly cause I did not study for 5 years plus pre reg and work experience to end up with a replacement of an apprentice then what is the point of my degree I might as well worked as a plumber or anything from the start and not wasted my time in uni. Can these fiasco proposals stop and not even be considered and can all pharmacists oppose this and have some dignity in yourself by not agreeing to this disaster thank you 

Greatly Pedantic and Highly Clueless, Senior Management

If I was going to suggest an apprenticeship to a future student then a gas fitter would be much more lucrative, although they actually do serious and real revalidation so that might put a few off. 

Joe Speedo, Community pharmacist

Thank you for your likes spread the word around and let others do likes please I can't stress how important this matter is to our profession and for future generations who will one day remember that we did not keep quiet but actually did something about it happy Christmas and new year 

Pear Tree, Community pharmacist

I have zero trust in Boots, Lloydspharmacy, Well and Superdrug. et al. My default position would be to be very very sceptical of any proposal, project, or whatever whackery they come up with given their track record running community pharmacy. They have magically absolved themselves of any responsibility once the pharmacist sticks the RP notice. 

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

A big NO for indoctrined robotic clones 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

That would certainly be an interesting piece of legalisation, wouldn't it Pear?

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