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Ridge: Expect ‘good news soon’ on NHS-funded prescribing course

Dr Ridge: There will be a cap on the number of independent prescribing training places

NHSE&I is “identifying funding” for an independent prescribing course for community pharmacists, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge has said.

Speaking at the virtual Clinical Pharmacy Congress (CPC) yesterday (May 12), Dr Ridge said NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) is looking at making “independent [prescribing] training places” available to community pharmacists.

NHSE&I is also working with the National Institute for Health Research to “develop an option around clinical academic pathways”, Dr Ridge added.

This will “reinforce the need for clinical research across the pharmacy profession”, including in primary care, where “prescribing becomes much more central to pharmacy practice”.

Responding to C+D’s request for an update on the clinical training planned for existing community pharmacists – which he first revealed at the local pharmaceutical committee conference last year – Dr Ridge said he hopes to be able to say “something more substantial about that in the very near future”.

“Please be [assured] that we are in the process of identifying funding to be able to do precisely that, so that community pharmacists who wish to train as independent prescribers will be funded to do so,” he said.

There will be a cap on the number of available training places, Dr Ridge added. “But one way or another, I think you can expect some good news soon about that,” he continued.

In December last year, the General Pharmaceutical Council approved new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists, which will make prescribing skills an “integral part” of pharmacists’ training.

New job role of ICS chief pharmacist “open to all”

On April 1, NHSE&I announced that the whole of England is now covered by integrated care systems (ICSs), which are partnerships of representatives from community and hospital health services, mental health services and local councils.

In February, the Department of Health and Social Care announced in a white paper that it would explore the idea of placing the commissioning of pharmacy services largely within the remit of local ICS bodies instead of NHSE&I.

Speaking at the CPC, Dr Ridge said that NHSE&I expects “ICSs to be in place... by April next year”.

A new role of ICS chief pharmacist will be introduced to “lead pharmacy and medicine services across the NHS”, Dr Ridge said. “We are working very closely with NHSE&I colleagues who are charged with setting up the ICSs to do just that,” he added.

“We’ve developed a model job description for ICSs to use for a chief pharmacist and we are, I’m pleased to say, beginning to see signs of the first appointments.

“It’s really important that’s done in an open and transparent way, with appointments open to all so that those appointed have the right skills and experience to play their part in driving forward the next phase of the NHS and indeed of pharmacy within that,” Dr Ridge added.

250 specialist mental health pharmacists

NHSE&I announced in the NHS People Plan published last year that in 2020/21 it would expand training posts for the future workforce, including “50 community-based specialist mental health pharmacists”.

Giving an update on mental health yesterday, Dr Ridge said NHSE&I is appointing 250 specialist pharmacists in mental health.

Would you train to become an independent prescriber?

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

this is exaxtly what we 'accessible to the public' community pharmacists need, once qualified the let new roles commence , the future ! 

TC PA, Community pharmacist

Unless there are commissioned services that require a community pharmacist to prescribe outside of an existing PGD, then this scheme is a waste of time. For the average community pharmacist, what would be the point of being able to prescribe? For CPCS purposes? For minor ailments? PCN schemes? I'd like to see articles about how a community pharmacist has been able to use prescribing skills in practice to provide NHS services.

I remember when Boots went through a period of training pharmacists to be prescribers. It generally came to nothing as they could use private PGDs to cover all of their commercial needs. 

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

The barrier before was that to prescibe via the NHS requires a prescription pad or access to prescribing software and, more importantly, a budget to prescribe from... and this was never going to be given to mere Pharmacists by an NHS structure at local level run by GPs. The  NHS at Governmental level has the blinkered vision that Primary care is run for the benefit of patients, and, I am sure there are good people who feel that way but the real influencers are exceedingly tribal and wont let any money go outside their own group.Until this is broken, we wont get NHS prescribing priveleges but, and this is what i think Ridge actually wants, we can then prescribe privately much more easily ( no PGD reqd), and take a burden out of the NHS. Or more long term, we are all trained up ready to be shunted wholesale int GP surgeries to relieve their burden of seeing patients.

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

How is it this guy is still in a job when he said he wouldn't be welcome in community pharmacy. How do we get rid of him or is this some sort of North Korean dictatorship where community pharmacy are the civilans of that state.


As someone mentioned earlier, he is the reason for the cuts that have decimated community pharmacy. Not worth listening to

M. Rx(n), Student

Just a small quibble:

Community Pharmacy is a CONTRACTOR for the State.

That's it; never mind me.

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

First job Mr Ridge.How about helping sorting the uncertainty re covid advance payments?Only then can community pharmacy plan.So before blowing your own trumpet re the future,pls sort out the past first!!How long......?

Greatly Pedantic and Highly Clueless, Senior Management

Quite rightly we've moaned about dispensing doctors prescribing and dispensing and a potential conflict of interest and now community pharmacists could be doing the same. Still who ever thinks that new qualified pharmacists should be prescribers needs their head looking at. Enter the GPhC!



M. Rx(n), Student

You are right re: newly qualified Pharmacists being IPs. I reckon far far greater prior dispensing exposure is required for a Pharmacist. But I think they might as well since the training itself would make them better honed fresh out the gates (even if the certification itself ends up being useless in the end)

In gp surgeries I think Pharmacist IPs are useful in smoothing prescribing potholes in advance of reaching the Pharmacy -- after all Pharmacists spend more time studying drugs (and relevant legislations) than doctors generally do (many newly minted GPs, and even experienced ones, wouldn't disagree).

And so, to be honest, i'd rather the legislation was just amended to allow dispensing Pharmacists to formally amend scripts on pharmaceutical grounds if there are clear reasons for doing so.


Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

This man convinced the NHS that there are too many pharmacies, which resulted in the funding cuts. He then went on TV to defend them . 

*This comment has been edited to comply with C+D community principles*

M. Rx(n), Student

I like the idea of practice-based (i.e. in-situ) options around post-qualification further education/certification.

In my opinion, the initial Pharmacy education should be exhaustive and conclusive enough (ala the PharmD) such that every practitioner is capable of using their practice to further enrich both the academic and practice systems -- a natural synergy.

A century ago, scientists and practitioners were nearly indistinguishable. Pharmacists are meant to be both. Let's raise the bar!

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