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Pharmacist apprenticeship proposals revived

The proposal is for a level 7 pharmacist apprenticeship, the equivalent to a master's degree
The proposal is for a level 7 pharmacist apprenticeship, the equivalent to a master's degree

A new proposal for a pharmacist apprenticeship is in development, C+D has learned.

A level 7 apprenticeship, equivalent to a master’s degree, where pharmacists would train as apprentices on placements hosted by pharmacy companies, was first proposed in a consultation in April.

The proposals proved controversial – a C+D poll suggested four fifths of pharmacists did not support them, while the consultation itself received more than 6,000 responses.

In May, the group overseeing the consultation, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, put the proposals on hold after deciding “further engagements should take place with sector stakeholders”.

But on Friday (October 25), not-for-profit organisation the Workforce Development Trust said the group of pharmacy employers behind the original proposals – which include the largest multiples – “would develop a second proposal, taking into account the issues and concerns that have been raised”.

“The group agreed that more transparency in the process is needed and further engagement through a longer consultation period is required,” the Workforce Development Trust said.

The group is taking steps to increase NHS representation and will “consider the financial viability of the apprenticeship”.

“The Institute will allocate a funding band as part of the approval process, which will be a contribution to the overall funding, and the group is also researching other funding opportunities.”

“Aware of the challenges”

The employer group co-chairs Claire Flavell, strategic lead for the Lincolnshire Talent Academy at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Vanessa Kingsbury, training coordinator at Blackwell Medical Services, said: “We are aware of the challenges that this development has and we are committed to supporting employers through the process, ensuring the inclusion of professional bodies and the regulator.

“An integrated degree apprenticeship for pharmacists will provide choice for individuals wanting to train as a pharmacist in parallel to the traditional route, in order to widen participation and access to the profession.

“With apprentices needing to undertake an MPharm degree as part of the on-programme training, it will ensure that the apprenticeship route is as academically robust as the existing route to registration.”

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

Employers will now develop the proposal, apprenticeship standard and end-point assessment plan, it added.

Read more about the proposals, including the full list of pharmacy employers represented on the development group.

Responding to the announcement, Royal Pharmaceutical Society director for education Gail Fleming said there are “serious risks if appropriate levels of funding are not secured”.

“However, an apprenticeship could provide opportunities for a fully integrated five-year degree with regulatory scrutiny in practice, which does not exist in the current training model,” she pointed out.

“It may also enable access into the profession for those who find the traditional route prohibitive dependent on their personal circumstances, while maintaining the integrity of degree entry.”

The Pharmacists' Defence Association welcomed the “improved transparency at this stage and hopes that if any proposal reaches a consultation stage, it will be widely publicised and provide a sufficient time period for the profession to respond”.

What do you make of proposals for a pharmacist apprenticeship scheme?

Former Cist, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Presumably this is the first step in the dumming down process for community pharmacists so that they become technician equivalents (and can be paid less). The "real" pharmacists or clinical pharmacists will all be steered into GP practices.

Can you imagine the backlash if this were suggested for any other healthcare profession? Nursing and doctor's bodies wouldn't even let this get to the discussion phase.

In my opinion, a better idea would be to reduce the pharmacy degree to 3 years. From my own experience and speaking to pre-reg pharmacists, this should be possible. I've not noticed any difference in the quality of pharmacists who did a BSC compared to an MPharm. 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""As long as they have to go through the same rigorous chemistry and pharmacology as we did Im ok with it. Good luck finding a pharmacist to mentor you""

""Presumably all these apprentices will have to sit the same university exams?"""

If these criteria are met, then don't you think it is as much as going to the University instead of being an Apprentice?? No Pharmacy can build special labs, library etc and hire Professors, don't you think??

Adam Spencer, Community pharmacist

Who even gave these multiples soo much power to decide how the training of a pharmacists is dictated.these ppl don't care for the pharmacy profession,all they're interested in is bottom line profits.theyre not pharmacists because pharmacists appreciate the study and effort that is put into obtaining an Mpharm.

we need to boycott these greedy companies and strike,we need to be more ruthless and fight back against the despicable decisions being made to ruin and destroy our profession.

we need a stronger representative body,one that has teeth and bites back against these greedy self-interested ppl.

Arrey TATAW, Community pharmacist

So true...

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

The race to the bottom has well and truly begun!

There is already an oversupply of Pharmacists; so no real need to make it easier/increase the numbers.....?

I agree with the above comments......any funding for this should be put towards nurses and doctors......of which we are continually told the NHS pays millions in locus/agency fees........


Adam Spencer, Community pharmacist

The greed,the pure greed. We don't need to open up channels to allow more people to train as pharmacist.if anything I feel there needs to be more channels opened to become a doctor. Chances are that these large greedy multiple who care soooooo much about opening more channels,will probably pay off some senior government official who will pass legislation to facilitate this move. 


Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Incredible! Are you suggesting corruption ?

Adam Spencer, Community pharmacist

All I'm saying is money talks, you can only prove corruption if you are caught. Pay enough money and you can get the nod. 

Hope Mask, Locum pharmacist

Ok I know my University degree is useable in all developed nations. I can practice in the US, Canada and Australia. But I know these apprentice quack Pharmacist will never leave the shores of UK to practice this beloved profession. So sorry I'm not moved. Lol. They will be recognised as quacks and the rest of the world will laugh at England. Lol 



Hope Mask, Locum pharmacist

Pharmacist degree curriculum can NEVER be trained in the workplace. How can shops like boots and lloyds pretend they can train masters level graduates in their shops? Geez ! Those will definitely be quack and substandard Pharmacist compared to other developed countries!! It's a shame patient safety is now on bargain because multiples want cheap professional labour. Are they going to hire professors of the different science colleagues to come to shop to lecture apprentices? Who comes up with this kind of idea anyway? Only an illeterate and greedy businessman can ever suggest that. Is a multiple going to train apprentices how to design new drug molecules in labs? What  labouratory is that? I don't see any university labs in boots! 
How are these apprentices  going to learn how to elucidate molecules and all the analytical pharmaceutical chemistry bit? Is that within the teaching capability of a shop Pharmacist? 
If these apprentices will have to take lectures partly in universities, they might as well pass their A levels and apply for a proper masters degree in UNIVERSITIES!!  But I see, someone wants cheap labour but can't ask intelligent graduates to come down on their salaries, so they are taking the option of hiring failed school leavers to become professionals, as of course they will accept any pay! Isn't it obvious? Lol 

sam Simon, Community pharmacist

Haha, university of boots and university of lloyds. 

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

more like university of bootshits by bootshiteers

Bob Dunkley, Locum pharmacist

I thought we'd seen the last Of this malarkey- obviously not. Two observations 1) I'm glad I'm retiring and 2) you can bet medics wouldn't stand for such a back door entry. They would have killed it first time round and made sure it's dead.

Seal Patel, Community pharmacist

As long as they have to go through the same rigorous chemistry and pharmacology as we did Im ok with it. Good luck finding a pharmacist to mentor you

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

Presumably all these apprentices will have to sit the same university exams?......

Pear Tree, Community pharmacist

Saturated pharmacist market already, falling real time wages, rising unemployed pharmacists. Answer? Let's saturate the market even more, kill the profession, and save a few quids. At what cost? They didn't care, get used to it. It's called market economy. 

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

"in order to widen participation and access to the profession." - Sorry, I thought we already had too many pharmacists, and since the Government seems intent on closing some Community Pharmacies, that will surely add to the pool already available. Yes, PCN and other developments will require Pharmacists but the current system will more than provide.

bilal hussain, Community pharmacist

It's no surprise the 'largest multiples' are behind this. Flooding the market with below-par 'pharmacists' to reduce the wage seems a good business idea. Who cares how many patients suffer with their health in the hands of this new group of 'pharmacists'.

C A, Community pharmacist

You would almost think they don't want to have to improve working conditions or remuneration to try and stem the exodus of pharmacists to primary care or PCNs.

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

They don't . Its all down to boosting their profits. I have thought for a long time now that pharmacists , as we are at the moment, will no longer exist in a few short years.

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