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PDA: Still concerns apprentice pharmacists won't be 'up to standard'

PDA director Paul Day: Our members clearly think a pharmacist apprenticeship is a bad idea
PDA director Paul Day: Our members clearly think a pharmacist apprenticeship is a bad idea

While the PDA welcomes the transparency of the revived pharmacist apprenticeship proposal, members are still concerned apprentices will “not be up to standard”.

Proposals for the controversial pharmacist apprenticeship scheme were revived last month, after being put on hold by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in May.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) criticised the initial proposals for a “lack of transparency and the short time given for the consultation”, while its members “overwhelmingly suggested [the apprenticeship] is a bad idea”, director Paul Day told C+D last week (October 29).

Some pharmacists are concerned that trainees who come through the apprenticeship route will not be as qualified as those who take the traditional MPharm training route, which would “reflect badly on the reputation of the profession at large”, he explained.

“Our job as the largest organisation representing individual pharmacists is to reflect their views, and clearly they think it’s a bad idea,” Mr Day added.

The Workforce Development Trust stressed last month that the apprenticeship will meet the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) regulatory requirements.

Poor training environments

The PDA has welcomed the improved transparency that has come with the reintroduction of the proposals, but warned it has “not seen any evidence” that the working environment in which trainees would be placed would “lend [itself] to developing the sort of people we need as pharmacists”.

Most environments – with the exception of teaching hospitals – “will not produce somebody who can fully perform the role of pharmacist” across all sectors, Mr Day claimed.

The GPhC would have to ensure any proposal “produces pharmacists to the standards that constitutes being a pharmacist” and the consultation period needs to be of a decent time, he stressed.

In April, a C+D poll suggested four fifths of pharmacists did not support the apprenticeship proposals. The original consultation received more than 6,000 responses.

What do you make of the pharmacy apprenticeship proposals?

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Standards aside, allowing the last few (largest) remaining companies to control the labour supply in this way will be a recipe for living-wage slaves.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist


If this route does end up giving the person the same qualification as those who do the MPharm route; why would anyone put themselves through Uni (with all the debt associated with this) to end up with the same qualification/earning power as someone who has done on the job training?

Could you imagine if this idea was put forward to Doctors........


Leon The Apothecary, Student

Rumour has it there is something in the works, a step-up programme for some healthcare professionals to top-up to the level of a doctor.

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

It's still a stupid idea, driven by the greedy multiples looking for cheap labour. It'll demean and dumbdown the profession

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It is very difficult to believe that an apprentice will only get used as a cheap member of staff. If we are honest, whenever we see a pre-reg in our stores, that is primarily what they end up being used for.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

And thoroughly indoctrinated into one particular company’s systems and ethos (with the deliberate exclusion of others). A contractual lock in for some period after “graduation” is most likely.

Anyone who should qualify by this route may find it very difficult to diversify and find employment elsewhere. They may well end up trapped.

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