An initial apprenticeship proposal was “abandoned” in May, as employers failed to consider “rank and file pharmacists’” voices until a final consultation on the scheme was launched, the Pharmacists’ Defence Union (PDA) and fellow trade union the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) said in a joint statement yesterday (November 25).
However, not-for-profit organisation the Workforce Development Trust announced last month that the group of pharmacy employers behind the original proposal will develop a second one, “taking into account the issues and concerns that have been raised”.
The trade unions claimed in a letter that while business owners and NHS employer organisations are included in the revived discussions, “no attempt has yet been made to include the independent voice of pharmacists”.
They called for the employer group to “listen to the voices of individual working pharmacists and engage with the profession via our two organisations”, as the lack of engagement with pharmacists “caused the significant negative response to the first proposal”.
Concerns and contributions
“Many pharmacists have concerns about the underlying motivations for this proposal” and fear that a “poorly devised and delivered apprenticeship” could have negative consequences on the profession, the unions said.
It is “imperative” their concerns are taken into consideration at an early stage, before any decision to proceed is finalised, they stressed.
The PDA and GHP said they will not support the proposals unless:
- “There are realistic assurances that apprentices will enjoy robust, well-rounded and effective education and study, which meets General Pharmaceutical Council requirements for an MPharm course"
- “The training will allow apprentices adequate time for revision, self-directed learning and rest"
- “[The training] will produce registrants who, while being at no material disadvantage compared to registrants educated via the traditional route, will not threaten the status, resilience and viability of the profession as a whole”.