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GPhC consults on removing ‘barrier’ to independent prescriber training

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The GPhC has also proposed scrapping an entry requirement for independent prescriber trainees

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is consulting on allowing pharmacist independent prescribers to supervise other pharmacists training for the role.

At present, only doctors are permitted to supervise pharmacist independent prescribers during their training. But in a consultation, due to launch next week, the regulator sets out proposals to “modernise” this training, including allowing trainees to decide whether to instead be overseen by an “experienced pharmacist prescriber”.

“This change would remove a potential barrier to the expansion of the number of pharmacist independent prescribers and alleviate pressure on both course providers and, ultimately, service providers,” it said in its council papers.

Speaking exclusively to C+D last month, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said he sees the move as part of the “natural evolution” of the pharmacist's role.

Mr Rudkin referred to “the pace at which a significant number of pharmacists in England are now involved in providing care through new models of employment [such as] in general practice and more recently in care homes”.

The changes appear to be happening “relatively quickly, compared to other historic changes [the sector] has seen in the past”.

The consultation reflects the GPhC’s aim of “making sure the regulation stays up to date”, he added.

“We’re at a point now where it's appropriate to enable pharmacists to supervise prescribing training.”

Amending experience requirements

As part of its consultation, the GPhC also proposed scrapping the requirement for applicants to the independent prescriber course to have “worked in a patient-facing area for two years”.

There is “no evidence to suggest that time alone spent in a particular area produces applicants of the right quality to train”, the GPhC explained.

Instead, applicants should face “an effective, but not burdensome” application process, in which “course providers verify an applicant’s experience to ensure that they are ready to train”.

You can read the full proposals of the consultation – which will run for three months – from p70 of the GPhC’s February council papers here.

The Twitter reaction
Will these changes make you more likely to train as an independent prescriber?

martin gibson, Locum pharmacist

Why, when the pharmacy degree went from 3 to 4 years, couldn't they have INCORPORATATED prescriber training within the new M.Pharm. ?

martin gibson, Locum pharmacist

Come on everybody!  Who teaches doctors how to prescribe in the first place?  Answer: hospital PHARMACISTS !! 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I'm keen to see which doors are opened through a shift like this.

Graham Pharmacist, Senior Management

The door to doing more work for the same pay. You should be familiar with it.

Graham Pharmacist, Senior Management

Good on the GPhC for doing something positive for the fee payers! Personally I would rather that they tackled workplace pressure and intimidation tactics to perform services, but beggars can't be choosers.

*This comment has been edited in line with C+D's community principles.*

Maria Uba, Primary Care Nurse

You may waiting a long time.

Maria Uba, Primary Care Nurse

Only possible downside is that opening it up could depress earnings !! 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

With higher supply, that would make sense Maria. So perhaps the next step could be argued to work towards increasing demand for this chronically underutilised ability?

AFSHAN MUGHAL, Community pharmacist

Hooray, at last. 

This is a positive step in the right direction.

Finding a Designated Medical Practitioner (DMP) is currently challenging for many pharmacists and this leads to delays in professional skills which are now essential in daily pharmacy practice.

Looking forward to it and it is important that pharmacists within the profession support this move.



Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

Terrible idea, as a prescriber I truly hope that this is not permitted. 

Maria Uba, Primary Care Nurse

 Sounds like you’re afraid you might lose employees who’ll have better prospects away from a dispensary ?!

Andy Burrells, Community pharmacist

My, you show alot of faith in your colleagues and peers here

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

I have experience. One of the key areas that pharmacists lack is examination skills. The vast majority will always be behind the medics (save a few) due purely to time and experience. 

A pharmacist with relatively little examination experience will be teaching someone with almost none... there is only one way for that to go. 

There are a significant number of pharmacists (including prescribers) who believe that prescribing is choosing a drug.... which it is not. It is examination, diagnosis and taking a myriad of patient factors into account before making a choice of medicine, or ordering the correct test and following up. There is a lot more to learn than you can imagine from the outset. 

My pharmacy is probably one of the very few who can use pharmacist prescribers in a positive manner, however the quality of these people will need to be maintained. 


Leon The Apothecary, Student

Your articulation is far better the second time around there and explains your reservation, so firstly thank you for that. Would you then say that the remedial solution would be to have a methodology to ensure that the training provided is at least equal to current, including as you mentioned, examination techniques and practices?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Absolutely! - Removes the need to be affiliated to any GP/surgery just to complete the training. Bring it on!

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