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Five-year pharmacist apprenticeship proposal put on hold indefinitely

The board "decided that the proposal is not ready to go through to development"
The board "decided that the proposal is not ready to go through to development"

The proposal for a five-year pharmacist apprenticeship scheme has been put on hold indefinitely, the organisation overseeing the consultation has told C+D.

A level 7 apprenticeship, equivalent to a master’s degree, where pharmacists would train as apprentices on placements hosted by pharmacy companies, had been proposed in a consultation last month. Since then, the more than 6,000 responses were being reviewed by a “health and science route panel”, along with the proposals themselves.

But the group overseeing the consultation, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, told C+D this afternoon that it had been put on hold.

The board “decided that the proposal is not ready to go through to development at this time”, it told C+D.

“The board acknowledged that [pharmacy] is a distinct occupation, but recommended that the membership of the group developing the proposal should be expanded to include professionals from a wider range of pharmacy sectors, such as military, prisons and higher education institutions, and that further engagements should take place with sector stakeholders during the development of the proposal,” it said.

While the current proposals will not proceed further, the institute told C+D, it is up to the employer group – which C+D understands to include Boots and Well, among others – to digest the recommendations and decide whether to develop a new proposal.

A C+D poll last month suggested that four fifths of pharmacists did not support the apprenticeship proposals.

Responding to the news, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said the proposals had caused “significant concern across the sector”.

PDA director Paul Day added: “If the employer group intends to try again to progress their plans, we believe they should first identify themselves and approach their proposal with the level of transparency which the profession deserves.”

“Simply adding more anonymous members to an existing anonymous group is not going to improve the credibility of the proposal, or the process.”

Read everything C+D knows about the apprenticeship proposals.

How do you feel about the proposals being put on hold?

S J- Locum, Locum pharmacist

I've decided I am going to terminate being a Pharmacist and become a locum dispenser so I can earn a decent living and relax with no worries

Zegai Ermias, Community pharmacist


Peter Smith, Student

I wouldn't be a member of the RPS if they paid me £1000 a year. They achieve nothing, have no power, are not respected by anybody, and have about as much influence as a pharmacist at a pharmaceutical convention in Jamaica.

JOHN MUNDAY, Locum pharmacist

Going forward, we need to keep an eye on this. Luckily we have some help ie. PDA. What will happen in the future is that this will be reworked and reframed only this time looking much more acceptable. They will work slowly lobbying key people one by one, group by group until there is a consensus that this is do-able. Then, it is too late to stop it. We must be aware that there are commercial forces out there determined to undermine pharmacist based pharmacy and make it even cheaper than it is now. There is so much history and heritage to lose. The RPS don't care otherwise this would have been killed stone dead at birth. Please guys, keep your eyes peeled for this returning as something else within 12 months. Keep your nerve and fight it to the death.


david williams, Community pharmacist

Keith Howell-attitudes like that are part of the problem. I would not be so arrogant to categorise a view, based on someone's role. Owner is not a title to be looked down on, neither is primary care pharmacist, or come to think of it, any pharmacist. I am an owner, and against the proposal-totally. However this polarisation of views is a masive problem in the society we live in. Let us respect individuals and their views, even if we disagree with them, as I do. BUT, I respect their view none the less. To dismiss or pour scorn on a view, based on what you believe to be are someon's motives, without just cause, is really unhelpful.

Keith Howell, Primary care pharmacist

Dave, I make assumptions every working day. That's the basis of pattern recognition. Do you deny that the greatest support for this scheme comes from owners and superintendents? Is it not reasonable to question the poster's motives for his support of the scheme given that this had not been made clear? Why would Marc care if students pay less fees? In this scenario the end game is there will be more pharmacists meaning less pay. How is that in the interest of any pharmacist?

Finally Dave, read my brief earlier post carefully. I asked a simple question. No accusations were made. When people stop asking questions there is no longer a debate.

Marc Brooks, Community pharmacist

i am neither Keith.. And since you are good at making assumptions.. Why do you think the pharmacist at the end of this process will be any less skilled and why do you think there will be too many pharmacists?

In many areas it is very hard to get pharmacists  The  formation of PCN's and more pharmacists going into general practice and hospital will put further strain of the community pharmacy network.. And maybe i would be happy for students to pay less because i am a nice perosn??

Put on hold "indefinitely" How can we be confident of that?

Better to be on our guard for the next time this mad idea or a variation of it re-surfaces. The fact that it was ever suggested shows how some think the level of the profession should be set. 

Well done to all those that responded to the consulation. Next time they will do a "5 day consultation at 9pm on the Thursday before Good Friday!

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

It was as dead as a dodo from the beginning. Who on earth is going to dedicate five years of their life training, to accept an ocean of professional responsibility, for a platry wage of circa £15/hr, and with no possibility of moving out of the dispensary? Technicians recieve as much. Trades pay far more, with less training and less responsibility. This idea had desperation written all over it. The multiples are beginning to feel that the amount of pharmacists willing to accept absolutely horrific working conditions for a meagre industrial wage is decreasing by the day.

C A, Community pharmacist

I saw a locum ACT saing they were getting around £20/hr on Facebook.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Can confirm; locum dispensers here are on a low figure of £14ph plus milage and expenses, time and a half on weekends and double bank holidays.

Heard of one who got triple on Christmas! Fsir play to them; these fellas know how to cut a deal.

Peter Smith, Student

That's more than many locum pharmacists, but only half of what a competent mechanic, plumber, electrician, builder, locksmith etc gets.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Peter - the comment that pharmacists get paid less than plumbers etc is one that has been around for decades. I appreciate we all want to be paid our worth but the problem is, we don't have too much of a say in 'our worth'

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Anyone who had to unplug my toilet deserves their wage.

Peter Smith, Student

I'd love to unblock toilets for £40 an hour, plus £150 callout charge plus VAT! Locum pharmacists can't even get their parking charges paid for!

sam Simon, Community pharmacist

All hail the PDA!!! 

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

Need a rapid response team to to actioned by the PDA, 

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

Finally looks like someones listening...

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

Sensible decision.

Marc Brooks, Community pharmacist

Why do you say its sensible? I personally think its a good idea. They will be doing the same degree as usual pharmacy students.  It would also help students financially, as they won't have to pay the fees..

Keith Howell, Primary care pharmacist

Sooo Marc...Pharmacy owner or superintendent by any chance??

sam Simon, Community pharmacist

If they are doing the same degree why are they not doing it in the university? Anyway the proposal is dead on arrival. 

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

threy would do it at the same university as it needs to meet the GPhC Education and training standards?

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

They were required to spend time in a HEI otherwise they could not get a level7. The proposal had fatal flaws but university attendance was not one of them

C A, Community pharmacist

It was supposed to be an 80/20 split between work/uni, but that seems heavy on the work and light on the uni to me...

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

Not at all that split - its up to the course provider. More likely to be 30/22 with holidays off the 22 in work

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I agree with CA; it would be disingenuous to think that they would not be use mainly for cheap labour considering the number of job vacancies up by the majors right now.

David Evans, Superintendent Pharmacist

not cheap if you consider they will be paid while at uni?

Peter Smith, Student

Pharmacist apprenticeships will be pushed by the multiples to provide another route to becoming a registered pharmacist, as a ruse to flood the register with pharmacists and push wages and the company's costs down even further.

The multiples don't want good pharmacists, they want the minimal costs that they can get away with operating their stores at, and they will do anything to push costs down even further.


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