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.”
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.