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Aim for all new pharmacists to prescribe under GPhC-approved plans

The new standards cover the five years of education and training

The GPhC has approved the new standards for the initial education and training (IET) of pharmacists, which will make prescribing skills an “integral part” of pharmacists’ training.

The new standards, which cover the five years of education and training, “incorporate the aim of people being independent prescribers at the point of registration”, according to the GPhC papers published ahead of the council meeting today (December 10).

In a tweet today, the GPhC confirmed it had approved the IET standards for pharmacists.

The updated standards bring in a “number of important changes”, such as the introduction of a foundation training year – which will replace the pre-registration year – greater emphasis on the application of science in clinical practice and a focus on key skills such as diagnostic and consultation abilities, according to the GPhC papers.

Amended draft standards

Other amendments to the IET standards – the draft version of which was presented at the November council meeting – take into consideration the introduction of the foundation training year.

“This will involve the GPhC delegating responsibility to the statutory education bodies – Health Education England, Health Education and Improvement Wales and NHS Education for Scotland – to manage the quality of placements during the foundation training year”, the regulator said in the council papers.

Pharmacy students will need signed-off from both the designated supervisor and designated prescribing practitioner (DPP). If this is the same person, sign-off from another healthcare professional will also be required, the standards clarified.

The updated standards also add a requirement for pharmacists to “understand their legal responsibilities under equality and human rights legislation” and to “proactively seek to learn and understand communities and cultures”.

Earlier this year (July 28), the GPhC, the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland and the four UK chief pharmaceutical officers (CPOs) proposed that “one aim” of the foundation training year – expected to replace the pre-reg year in 2021 – would be for “new registrants to be independent prescribers”.

The UK CPOs and the two regulators said that, once the IET standards had been finalised, the reforms for a “continuum of five years of education and training” would be introduced in July 2021, with a “phased approach to implementation”.

However, the GPhC IET advisory group for told the GPhC council last month (November 12) that it was concerned there might be an “insufficient” number of DPPs to supervise pharmacy trainees during the new foundation training year.

What do you make of the new IET standards for pharmacists?

Anonymous Anonymous, Information Technology

Been a prescriber for nearly five years... In that time the most exciting thing I've done is write a couple of prescriptions for botox... Why? Because the OOH would rather pay £45 to nurses that don't know their backsides from their elbows but begrudge paying me anything more than £27!! Hence why I'd rather work in community thanks!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

And in there lies the problem, the fundamental structure of pharmacist prescribing needs to adjust to make full usage of it.


On the whole I personally welcome this change but as has been said above there is a lot that has to change in the structure of the contract and funding to enable pharmacists to actually use the skill in order to add any value to the service users, the patients.

I feel the current roll out of the CPCS has the potential to integrate more services into it, maybe what we are seeing now is laying the foundations for future services in which this skill could be utilised.  But it is early days yet and needs by in from PCN's and GP's etc. 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I agree with Steven's well-rounded insight. The skills to prescribe are important, but this needs to be tempered with a framework that allows Pharmacists to run a service to enable usage of this skill.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

As chemical Mistry says... unless CCGs or their equivalent will commission a service and provide a budget, its completely meaningless, and no more useful than PGDs  

Given the almost total lack of engagement by CCGs in the past and PCNs now the chances of that happening are slim to none. - watch for the backlash from GPs when they realise people they dont control might issue medicines... 

A wonderful theory but until a lot of changes are made in NHS structures, a waste of time.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

£25k per annum pharmacist prescribers for life. Boots et al will be happy.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

So when will this new Traning be active from? Will current students undertaking the 4th year at uni qualify for this? Or is it applicable to new undergraduate students from first year 2021 only? 

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

So the menial work will be done by pharmacist and nurses in the surgeries whilst the GP's concentrate on high tech work i.e. reducing their golf handicap.


Leon The Apothecary, Student

You heard about GP-based Paramedics, right?

Greatly Pedantic and Highly Clueless, Senior Management

Having over thirty years experience as a pharmacist, additional degree covering clinical and diagnostic skills and post grad in clinical pharmacy would I want to be a  prescriber? No.

Prescribing is the highest risk activity in medicine so why the hell do the folks at Canary Wharf think any newly qualified pharmacist would be capable of prescribing. If was an insurer I'd be giving this a wide birth. 


Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Half cocked idea, it would be good to have plan in place all these newly qualified prescribers will do once qualified , maybe arrangements for community pharmacists to prescribe and ability to change medication for chronic conditions provided access to medical records etc but if not available then pointless or maybe will involved mainly in prescribing hair loss and weight loss products.

Probably shows  the lack of clout of the cheif pharmaceutical officer Ridge has if he could  liase with his gp and government officials to bring this about then would be worthwhile but then could be just another goatee pen pusher waiting for his pension

Also just a marketing ploy with the pharmacy schools to push the degree to gullible students by saying will be able to prescribe once qualified ! just another smoke and mirror ploy used by schools over the years to get bums on seats


Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

One silver lining of covid is it might help to expose the University scam especially pharmacy schools.

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

Agreed. Has anyone ever come across a practical suggestion by someone with a goatee beard?


Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

male or female ?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Benie, if you ever jack in pharmacy, you may have a career as a stand-up beckoning!

Farmer Cyst , Community pharmacist

So is there any guidance on whether existing qualified pharmacists will be uptrained? Considering we are significantly more experienced and knowledgeable than undergraduate MPharm students it would make sense to focus on us too.

Ryan Chan, Product Development

I share your concern FC. Not all pharmacists (especially locums such as myself) have access to the prescribing curriculum. I would rather not be left behind but with a full-time job in the industry, there is frankly limited resource I can spare for locuming requirements.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Agreed FC.

I am doubtful of how much value this qualification will be given current IPs (almost all with several years experience in community pharmacy and additional qualifications) can struggle to find full time employment in the role.

Also there is also no indication where and in what capacity these graduates will be actually be able to prescribe. If indeed they ever do.

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