The General Pharmaceutical Council's (GPhC) Duncan Rudkin said he has “lost count of the number of times relatively newly-qualified pharmacists have told me how disillusioned they have become very quickly following entry into community pharmacy practice”.
This happened “because they thought they had been sold a degree and a career which was going to be very different from what they'd encountered”, he told delegates at the chief pharmaceutical officer's conference in London last week (March 15).
Speaking on a panel discussing how pharmacy can support a changing NHS, Mr Rudkin admitted: “It won’t be easy getting the balance right [and] equipping members of the profession for the unknowable future.”
There is a “significant challenge” in “making sure that we don't exclude anybody or create an environment in which we are effectively mis-selling degrees”, he added.
“Flying by the seat of our pants”
Speaking alongside Mr Rudkin, Health Education England (HEE) pharmacy dean Trevor Beswick said that while training programmes for pharmacy professionals to join GP practices and “emerging integrated urgent care” are commendable, the current programmes are for “specific cohorts, for a specific period of time”.
“We can't keep flying by the seat of our pants,” he stressed. “To achieve what we want at scale…we have to put in proper structures.”
If the sector accepts that GPhC accreditation following a four-year degree and one year pre-registration placement is “not enough” to secure certain roles, “it leads to the question: What do you need?” Mr Beswick added.
PSA: “Regulation is too restrictive”
Fellow panellist and Professional Standards Authority (PSA) chief executive Harry Cayton said regulation of the community pharmacy workforce “is too restrictive on the changes that we need” for the future.
“We need to build a more fluid form of regulation that allows us to bring new roles into the system quicker and better,” he added.
“We need to be thinking about what kind of mix of skills we want from pharmacists within the health system 25 years from now.”
The healthcare system will “never” be able to meet demands “if we don’t develop new roles”, he stressed.
In 2016, the PSA proposed the GPhC merge with its dentist and osteopath equivalents to form a “high-street regulator”. The GPhC rejected the proposals at the time.
Not just misselling of degree - changing the profession for the better so the role they enter matches the amazing education they receive, a role that their degree and #prereg prepares them for #CPhOConf18— Michael J Champion (@MJCPharmPol) March 15, 2018
Main image left to right: Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) faculty and education board chair Peter Kopelman; GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin; RPS England director Robbie Turner; PSA chief executive Harry Cayton; Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK president Tess Fenn; HEE pharmacy dean Trevor Beswick.