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Keith Ridge: Students may have to pay for pre-reg places

Keith Ridge: Leaving pre-registration student numbers uncapped is “unsustainable"

Some English students could have to fund their own year if the government introduces a centralised recruitment process, as suggested by the country's chief pharmaceutical officer

Some pharmacy students may be forced to pay for their pre-registration placements in the future, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer has predicted.

The Department of Health is “looking very closely” at the Scottish model, where NHS Education for Scotland (NES) oversees a centralised recruitment process for pre-registration placements, Keith Ridge told a General Pharmaceutical Council education event on Tuesday (November 10).

If this model is introduced in England, graduates who are unable to secure a placement centrally will have to “pay for themselves”, Mr Ridge said. “That is perhaps a little controversial, but that’s the reality of where we find ourselves.”

“The NHS will require a certain number of pharmacists and a certain number of pre-registration placements. In my view, that [means] there’s going to be some competition for those places,” he said.

Leaving pre-registration student numbers uncapped is “unsustainable in this fiscal environment”, he added.

BPSA “extremely concerned”

The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) said it is “extremely concerned” by Mr Ridge’s suggestion of a “tightly controlled” pre-registration recruitment system, which seems “very much at odds... with comments made by several employers that they are struggling to recruit newly qualified pharmacists”.

“These statements would suggest that we do not have too many pharmacy students, and there are plenty of opportunities available post-qualification,” BPSA president Lottie Bain told C+D.

The BPSA is aware of Scottish pharmacy students who are being “asked to pay several thousands of pounds to undertake pre-registration training”, after failing to secure a place through NES, Ms Bain added.

“We believe this will have long-term detrimental effects on the number of high quality students [and] the professional image of pharmacy.”

The government rejected a cap on university student numbers in pharmacy last year, despite a joint consultation that showed most respondents favoured some form of limit to resolve the “significant” oversupply of pharmacy graduates.


What do you think of Keith Ridge's comments?

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Leon The Apothecary, Student

Keith Ridge seems to be providing an inflammatory comment. To what end, I'm sure many people have theories.

Gurjepal Pannu, Community pharmacist

Pre-reg retail pharmacy vacancy in Birmingham for 2015-2016 to start ASAP,would suit candidate who wants to jump ship.Contact Gurj on 0121 7773469 or email:[email protected]

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Well if this government keeps the retirement age creeping up, most pharmacists should be allowed to bail out once they reach sixty. Then let the new entrants have more vacancies.....dream on.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Except they can't afford it. Funny how many people in europe retire at 55.

Siraj Mohammed, Community pharmacist

This story is technically factually incorrect, in that any Scottish pre reg who does not get a space through the centralised network/grant will most likely do their training year at an independent for ATLEAST the minimum wage/8 quid an hour. so they technically are not paying for it themselves...just not getting 10 quid an hour like other pre regs.

Cathy Cooke, Hospital pharmacist

Having a tightly controlled centralised system only works if the numbers of pharmacists required are accurately forecast. This causes problems if new roles open up and there are insufficient pharmacists to fill new or vacated roles. Managing student numbers would have been a better option unless a significant proportion of post grads don't want to become pharmacists and are looking to move into other careers.

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

Ministers decide Civil servants advise. The advice to ministers was clear from employers, professional bodies and students (and I suspect DoH advisors as that is what happens Drs, nurses and other NHS professionals) but the market argument from the HEIs was the decision agreed by Greg Clarke at BIS who decided not to cap entry numbers. The DoH was always going to manage its costs and Students were sadly always going to be victims. However it appears some HEIs who decided to live by sword of the market may potentially die by that sword. Not a fan of the market as it is a crude and blunt instrument but the majority of "better" students from "better" universities will get "free" pre-registration places. So looking at the published pass rates which University would you choose to recruit free pre-reg and as an able student where would you go as it is they (through loans) not HEFCE who pay for the degree. A very wasteful use of taxpayers money in my view but not a surprising response but it could have been so much better.

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

its a winn for all except the students themelves the pharmacy school gets the money from the students the goverments recruits as many as they want.. leaving some who have worked hard for 4 years to look for alternative careers..... the rate limiting step is the pre-reg places......why cant prespective students see the light at the end of the tunnel.......

Mike Jarrett, Community pharmacist

Seems to me that he is pulling the drawbridge up after him. If the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer is fit for purpose, surely he should have seen the glut of numbers coming, and prevented all these unwanted Pharmacy schools opening. Glad I'm retiring at the end of the year !!

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

..and now you will be pulling up the drawbridge at year end, don't rub it in !!

Mike Jarrett, Community pharmacist

Only qualified in 1970, don't you think 45 yrs is enough ?? 

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

This is like having to pay for being abused. What does it take for people to finally wake up to the fact that they are getting shafted? And while I'm ranting, our optician now gets paid £400 for a six hour Sunday shift. Yes I know, why the hell did I ever become a pharmacist.

Anonymous Anonymous, Information Technology

And you've forgotten to add how many optoms are useless! I'm sick of the number of times I've had patients come into the pharmacy from next door because the optom couldn't recommend an appropriate eye drop!!!!! I (on half their hourly rate + about 100x the work burden) have to then take responsibility for something that they should be advising on!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

If you're working harder for less money that makes you stupid.

Paul Mayberry, Community pharmacist

Mr Ridge has the wrong end of the stick . The NHS needs more pharmacists and hence more pre-Regs because of the current fiscal climate. Apparently there are not enough doctors being trained and many of them are taking early retirement, making it difficult if not impossible for the remaining GPs to provide a good service . The government should be looking for more ways to move work away from GPs and onto other healthcare professionals, who can provide the services in a more accessible cost efficient manner. We all know that pharmacists are the answer to this problem. But how can we help if Pre-Reg places are going to be limited ?

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

No none young enough with any common sense is going to stick around waiting for the government to help them out. The smart answer is get out of community pharmacy and pronto.

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

so less pharmacies due to a few large hub and spokes and now paying to do pre reg. How does paying for pre-reg ensure that the best canidates get the ever dwindling placements... I think this mans an idiot who believes too much Tory party crap

Chris ., Community pharmacist

Is this not the best news of the year for current pharmacists?

London Locum, Locum pharmacist


Chris ., Community pharmacist

So you don't want more pharmacy schools as it would mean too many pharmacists, yet, when this will limit pharmacists numbers you don't want that either? I do wonder sometimes....

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Your're rather naive aren't you. Let me paint you a picture of many students paying for their pre-reg then surprise No job or rubbish low paid job. See it now.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

I do hope that the Universities will be advising prospective Pharmacy students of this fact. Preferably before accepting the tuition fees.

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

its official, we are pathetic, other professions must be having a huge belly laugh at us

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

More and more reasons not to study Pharmacy. Why pay for the privilege of having a dead end job(if lucky) which won't even pay off your loans. Absolute madness.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""Leaving pre-registration student numbers uncapped is “unsustainable in this fiscal environment”""" Can someone please tell me if this person is fit for the position he holds?? He is not opposing the student numbers or the number of Pharmacy schools but is ready to accept a cap on Pre-reg places !!!! What is the logic ??? The schools of Pharmacy can make as much money as possible and the students (who graduate with a huge loan on their head) have to pay for their pre-reg places ??? Bullocks

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

Actually there was a consultation on the uni places, and the universities unsurprisingly have appealled against it. The BPSA are not a fan, big shock there, employers are moaning able unfilled places, maybe they should look at their own salary offers as a reason for that? I would love to take the BPSA to task on their stance, come on C&D push back against unfounded statements and use journalism on them.

Michael Champion, Pre-reg Pharmacist

What particular stance do you believe needs critical appraisal? The BPSA are looking after their members' interests by raising the concern that, under this model, some students that are competent enough to pass the MPharm, but don't get a pre-registration training placement, would have to buy their way into the profession, which reduces the accessibility of the profession to potentially skilled pharmacists. The consultation on management of MPharm student numbers was stimulated by an opinion paper the BPSA published in 2012, and its opinion on the issue was corroborated by the majority of key education and training stakeholders.

Chris ., Community pharmacist

The BPSA just go quiet if anyone says anything against them despite no-one really caring what they say. There are so many things that should have been brought up about them in the past but no-one does and everything they do that is 'not quite right' is covered under the carpet...

Michael Champion, Pre-reg Pharmacist

The reason there was a debate about the sustainability of the pharmacist workforce at all was because of the BPSA's opinion paper which was launched in 2012, and it was a viewpoint which was concurred with by a variety of key stakeholders. I am sure, if you have concerns about the way that things have been administered, they'd be happy to answer those concerns promptly.

THB _B, Community pharmacist

the man has his head stuck in the sand.


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