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.