The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is suggesting combining academic study and pre-registration training into a five-year integrated programme for pharmacy students, in a 12-week consultation that ends on April 3.
The Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) said yesterday (March 21) that if these plans resulted in students “having to fund their own placements on five-year courses”, there is a “danger for pharmacy schools that prospective students may react negatively”.
This could “hit [the] workforce and thus patient experience”, PhSC said.
In its consultation, the GPhC does not explain how placements would be funded in a five-year degree.
Instead, it says that the bodies responsible for funding would have to work with universities, employers, health education and training organisations in moving to a five-year programme.
The PhSC said it has a “serious and realistic concern” regarding the “uncertainty” of funding for pharmacy placements, exams, and university places under the proposed new programme, it said in a statement.
“It is considered vital that pharmacy continue to be an attractive course to study and a viable course for a university to deliver.”
More clarity needed
More clarity is needed from the GPhC over ensuring the experience of students across Great Britain is standardised, PhSC added.
“Clear expectations” of the education of pharmacists “need to be discussed”, and it is “vital” that no key pharmacy skills are “minimised or removed” during changes to pharmacy courses, it continued.
The PhSC is “confident that it can work with the GPhC to ensure that any proposed changes to the standards are deliverable by institutions” and it “welcomes the commitment to the evolution and enhancement of pharmacy programmes,” it added.
Professor: Proposals create more uncertainty
Professor Darrin Baines from Bournemouth University's school of pharmacy told C+D the proposal of a five-year programme is a “positive move”, but it “creates uncertainty at a time when things are [already] uncertain”.
“It's not 100% clear where we're going with education,” he said. “Is there a 30-year impact statement [for the proposals]?”
The GPhC proposals are available in full on its website.
Read GPhC chair Nigel Clarke’s explanation of why students need a five-year pharmacy programme here.