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No pre-reg year if foundation programme introduced in 2021

An interim foundation pharmacist programme could be introduced in England from September
An interim foundation pharmacist programme could be introduced in England from September

The pre-reg year could be replaced by a one-year foundation programme from summer 2021, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) and Health Education England (HEE) have said.

The foundation programme – which would be introduced across Great Britain – will be considered as the fifth year of a “continuum of pharmacist initial education and training”, according to senior people at NHSE&I and HEE.

While it will be “demanding” to introduce this reform from next year, the change will be beneficial to patients, “the needs of the NHS, and the careers of future pharmacists”, Alan Ryan, HEE's director of national transformational programmes, and Richard Cattell, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer at NHSE&I wrote in a letter last week (July 23).

The reform will be discussed further “by a broad range of stakeholders, led by the General Pharmaceutical Council [GPhC]”, before being implemented

Interim foundation programme

In the meantime, an interim foundation pharmacist programme will be introduced in England only from September for the cohort of pre-registration trainees who will join the GPhC’s provisional register from August 1.

The one-year training scheme will help this year’s cohort of pre-registration trainees – who, due to the COVID-19 pandemic “have not had the full experience necessary for registration” – to “transition to full GPhC registration and beyond” and develop their “ability to achieve high quality outcomes for patients and improve patient safety”, according to the letter.

Reform required

The pandemic offers the “opportunity to accelerate the reform of pharmacist education” at a time when “patients and other health professionals are becoming increasingly reliant on the clinical knowledge and skills of pharmacists”, Mr Ryan and Mr Cattell said.

In order to meet this need, pharmacists require additional training, “in part because their initial education and training does not fully support these needs”, the letter said. In recognition of this, the GPhC will “shortly finalise new regulatory standards for the five years of pharmacist initial education and training”, Mr Ryan and Mr Cattell added.

“This reform is required to standardise the uptake of this additional training, providing future newly qualified pharmacists with the necessary consultation skills and confidence to provide the clinical services expected by patients and the NHS,” they said.

Mark Voce, director of education and standards at the GPhC, told C+D today (July 27) that the reforms to introduce the one-year foundation training will start in July 2021.

“We have now reconvened a working group to inform the final set of revised initial education and training standards for pharmacists and to drive implementation of the standards,” he said.

NHS Education for Scotland told C+D today that representatives from Scotland “will be working with the other countries, the GPhC and key stakeholders on what these proposals mean for the initial education and training period for pharmacists in Scotland.”

A spokesperson for Health Education and Improvement Wales told C+D today that the organisation is “fully sighted and engaged with” the GPhC's plans. “The proposals also align to the Wales vision for pharmacist education and training and the goals of Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales,” they added.

The GPhC launched a consultation on the “standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists” last year. The consultation, which ran between January and April, revealed that the majority of respondents welcomed the regulator’s proposals to combine the pharmacy degree and pre-registration training.

What do you make of these proposals?

Ronald Trump, Pharmaceutical Adviser


Im confused...are we heading for a 5 year degree with more placements towards the end or just rebranding pre-reg year as a foundation year with more clinical skills?



Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

5 years hard slog and fees to earn £25-30k and falling. Sounds very attractive so if I bump into any 18 year olds I'll be sure to tell them, NOT. This now falls into the category of scamming.

 I wonder if anyone will finally talk about expoitation of adolescents by Unis before handing them over to employers to grind them into the dust. Should be around long enough to fully test and get those robots up to speed.

Ronald Trump, Pharmaceutical Adviser


My preference would be 5 year course with intergrated patient facing placements, clinical and prescribing skills relevant to pharmacy, whilst retaining medicines expertise at its core.

Then we need to allign the community pharmacy contract to make the most if these highly skilled pharmacists so they can put what they learned in uni into practice.

Pharmacists currently working who learned everything they needed in their pre-reg year will need to catch up with the knowledge and skills because I imagine a lot of them have been coasting their whole career without much development at all of clinical knowledge or skills. If you're still young enough then do youself a favour and get a diploma and IP qualification to furureproof yourself..otherwise if youre too long in the tooth then start saving for retirement.

It's exciting to see how this profession is evolving and the future is bright! :)



Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

The profession is evolving itself the way of the dinosaur - i.e. to ultimate extinction. If you are genuinely a 'Pharmaceutical adviser' (never been able to fathom out precisely what role that is) you should be able to see that when that giant meteorite combination of ACT, hub and spoke, remote supervision etc, hits the world of Pharmacy, the pharmacist will be consigned to history. Pharmacy as a concept will continue and will evolve. The involvement of the pharmacist will not.

NQ Pharmacist , Primary Care Nurse

Are you for real? Are you a pharmacist? As a pharmacist who sat the June 2019 exam it is no means a walk in the park! If anything this is a step backwards so many universities let students in for the sake of student fees, if this plan goes ahead it's a shambles! Don't understand how attending uni for an extra year will make you better than someone whose already on the register! It's not like we didn't study a 4 year uni course is it? Plus an intense pre reg exam!! Which many people fail!!! 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Genuine question to every pharmacist out there in community-land (i.e. Hell) - how many of you think you have ACTUALLY used any relevant part of your degree course since qualification or did you learn everything you really needed during the pre-reg year?

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Being lied to throughout Uni by lecturers has been useful. Translated nicely to higher grade lies peddled by GPhC, RPS and the multiples etc together with various ministers.

I use my knowledge of gas chromotography on a daily basis..........

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I used to be able to read an NMR spectroscopy trace and tell you exactly what the compound was. Now it's gone back to being a wiggly line meaning nothing.

david williams, Community pharmacist

Thrown to the Wolves at 17.24. Martin Molineux (molyneux) replies at 17.47.

Is this a wind up


Leon The Apothecary, Student

I am curious to see these new standards. Particularly because it will offer an insight into how the perception of community pharmacy is expected to be in the next several years.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

How will the sweat shops cope without free labour??? Me thinks the masters won't like this. I hope it's thorough training and not just stacking shelves and counting pills by a new name

Martin MOLYNEUX, Community pharmacist

What about the students who have accepted pre-registration placements with our company commencing July 2021 ???

This all seems rather rushed


Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Your concern is the free labour.

A Long Serving Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

What about those pre-reg graduates who are in limbo because they've failed one or two pre-reg exams already and are not allowed to be included in the provisional registration offered to all the others this year? Are they to be thrown to the wolves and not allowed ever to register?


Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Short term pain. They'd be better off doing something else. They have the rest of their lives to look forward too.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

There's a lot of choices out there these days, several professions are currently paying students £5,000 Learning Support Funds a year to study their courses. £7,000 if they have dependents, £8,000 if the profession is in short supply and regionally needed.

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