The current Standards for the education and training of pharmacist independent prescribers – published in January 2019 – specify that, in order to be eligible to enrol on an independent prescribing course, pharmacists “must have at least two years’ appropriate patient-orientated experience post-registration, in a relevant UK practice setting”.
This requirement could be removed to respond to the UK chief pharmaceutical officers’ desires to increase the number of pharmacist prescribers and cut the time it takes for a pharmacist to be annotated as such, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) wrote in its council papers ahead of its meeting today (July 15).
It currently takes between seven and eight years from the start of initial education and training for pharmacists to be annotated as independent prescribers, the GPhC said.
“Given the rapid changes in pharmacy and the need in some sectors for more urgent additional pharmacist independent prescribers, we do not think it is right to simply wait until 2025/26,” the GPhC wrote in the papers.
Course applicants would instead be asked to submit evidence of previous clinical work, demonstrating “the quality of their experience rather than its quantity”, the regulator added.
Consultation needed before any changes
A GPhC spokesperson confirmed to C+D that the proposal to remove the two-year requirement was discussed at today’s council meeting.
Rose Marie Parr and Arun Midha, who co-chair the GPhC Advisory Group, said this change was supported by the group, according to the spokesperson, who added that the council members specified that patient and public safety must be considered when making this change.
The GPhC will now prepare to consult on this change, and the regulator will consider the responses to its consultation before it makes a final decision, the spokesperson added.
According to the council papers, the GPhC “will seek council approval to any proposed changes before issuing the consultation”.
The GPhC approved the new pharmacist initial education and training standards last year (December 10), which will make prescribing skills an “integral part” of pharmacists’ training.
However, pharmacists completing the foundation training year in 2022 will not be registered as independent prescribers at the point of registration, although he GPhC told C+D last year it was considering “interim measures” to help foundation year pharmacists “move quickly into prescribing” after they qualify in 2022.