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Pharmacy education leads call for better pre-reg and post-reg training

Health Education England's Gail Fleming says the pre-registration year should be well-structured
Health Education England's Gail Fleming says the pre-registration year should be well-structured

Pharmacy education providers have called for a standardised approach to pre-registration training as a way to improve quality across England.

Health Education England (HEE) wants to focus on improving pre-reg training, as there is “variation in terms of trainer, training satisfaction, and registration rates”, the organisation's head of pharmacy for London and the south-east told delegates of a pharmacy seminar in London yesterday (January 16).

Gail Fleming stressed the need to bring “quality into the programme, and quality during the programme”, and said HEE is “focusing on different tools to ensure the quality of that training”.

“Wherever you do your pre-reg, you should have a positive, well-structured and well-supervised experience,” Ms Fleming said.

Speaking to C+D after his session at the same Westminster Forum event, Nigel Ratcliffe, head of Keele University’s school of pharmacy, said it is “crucial” to focus on the quality of the pre-reg year, as it is an “absolutely vital part of the overall five-year training of the pharmacist”. See his full comments in the video below.

National framework for post-registration training

Ms Fleming also said HEE wants to focus on foundation training for new registrants, so they can work “in multiple teams and across sectors”.

This “needs to be a national framework, so it is transferable”, she stressed. “We are working in partnership with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the General Pharmaceutical Council and employers to take that forward,” she said.

HEE has been working closely with NHS England to use the Pharmacy Integration Fund to “invest in post-registration training for community pharmacists”, Ms Fleming added.

The organisation also has a “very small project” piloting how to support pharmacy technicians' post-registration development.

“We are very keen to think of the pharmacy workforce as a whole cross-sector workforce, rather than [take] a siloed approach,” she explained.

“A little bit more focus” needed

C+D deputy news editor Annabelle Collins spoke to Mr Ratcliffe after his session yesterday. Watch the full video for his views on how the pre-reg training year could be improved.

How do you think pre-reg training can be improved?

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

I have had students who can't do simple % and fractions. I suggest start with better students and better college education. Don't pass the buck to pre-reg training and tutors

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Standards have been dumbed down so universities can fill their coffers and Boots can maximise profit. What use is training when there are no jobs or sh***y paid ones with no self respect.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Nigel Ratcliffe missed the point, we need quality throughout the system. First, we need quality candidates to enter schools pharmacy which means universities need to be more stringent in their admissions policy. Forty years ago, they picked from the top 5% or so of school leavers, now they have to pick from about 50% - with GCSEs getting easier, they face an uphill struggle to maintain quality, I even heard someone with 3 C's was admitted a couple of years ago. Secondly, the universities need to provide quality teaching - and that's up for debate. When I was an undergraduate in 1975, I had about 25 hours of classroom education and additional homework each week (and how many hours in Keele now, Nigel?).

I hope Mr Ratcliffe is not trying to abdicate responsibility to pre-registration trainers. His establishment should be delivering quality M.Sc's to the trainers in the first instance.

Thirdly, with the current over-supply of pharmacists, new schools of pharmacy, which primary purpose is to bring in revenue for those universities, jobs for academics and with no regard for the labour requirements of the profession, should close, with the latest entrants to the market first.

I have however experienced some maturity issues with newly qualified pharmacists in the past, I think the answer to that is to double the pre-registration period to 2 years, maybe 3, beyond that any training should be classed as professional development. Do we need funding for that?

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