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RPS backs government plans to cap student numbers

People The RPS has backed government plans to cap the number of pharmacy students and recommended limiting intake to the number of pre-registration placements available.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has backed government plans to cap the number of pharmacy students and recommended limiting intake to the number of pre-registration placements available.

Allowing student numbers to grow without any form of control could drive down the quality of candidates, eventually damaging both the profession and patient care, the RPS said in an analysis of entry to the pharmacy profession, published on Thursday (August 22).

The analysis examined six options for planning the workforce, from doing nothing, limiting access to pre-reg placements and controlling admissions to the MPharm degree.

The RPS suggested limiting pharmacy student intake to the number of pre-registration placements available

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The academic, community, hospital and industry branches of pharmacy all fed their views into the analysis, which concluded that matching student admission numbers with pre-reg placements would be the least risky option.

Under the plans, employers would have to commit to providing pre-reg placements four years in advance and pharmacy schools would have to restrict student numbers.

A cap would increase students' chances of securing placements and eventual employment, as well as gear selection towards candidates who were more academically able, the RPS education expert advisory panel and education reference group found.

However, it warned it would take several years to complete the transition to the new system, which could "significantly" reduce revenue for some universities. There was strong support for a moratorium on all new pharmacy schools, but mixed views on whether an agreed number of schools should close.

Although one group member warned school closures could result in the loss of "a lot of experience from the academic workforce", another said it was harsh but necessary.

Last December, the Department of Health set out plans to cap intake into pharmacy schools in the same way as medical and dental degrees.

It pledged to consider funding constraints and carry out an impact assessment and consultation before going ahead with the proposals.

Locum Voice founder Lindsey Gilpin expressed support for matching pre-reg placements with student numbers as soon as possible. "This would focus minds on at least allowing all students the possibility of becoming pharmacists," she told C+D on Thursday. "Anything else would be totally unfair on them."

How do you think a cap on pharmacy student numbers will affect the pharmacy sector?

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Ahmed :-), Community pharmacist

Absolutely genuinely delighted at the response Pharmacy has given! Made my week if not month!! Fingers crossed the DoH's consultation goes ahead fairly and the proposals are set into motion.
Limiting student numbers is the only realistic option and whilst it IS unfair to possibly close some Schools of Pharmacy, it is a must! I only hope that lessons will be learnt, and that the 'exact' science of work-force planning actually does its home-work first before making such ridiculous changes to entry to Pharmacy Courses that has led to the inexcusable situation of too many pharmacy students than required!
Once again, a big hurrah to the DoH and the RPS for advising these measures..... HURRAH!!

Yacoob Maskeen, Community pharmacist

Pharmacy degree was once a talk of the town as being an excellent profession.But sadly trying to utter these very words now takes some doing. I have met several pre regs, who are now deciding to study medicine and dentistry. They each said that they did not know the truth about job prospects in .pharmacy. I just hope the future is bright for pharmacy.

Super Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Running the risk of sounding holier than thou, this should have been though of & done 10-15 years ago!

Dorothy Drury, Locum pharmacist

Are we talking about the RPS supporting capping numbers in the UK, when most pharmacists now qualifiy in EU universities? All would have to be limited.Talk about keeping up!

Yassin Dickie, Community pharmacist

Sadly Too little. Too late.!!

Graham Morris, Design

The "Big Boys" won't want that. They want an excess of pharmacists to keep the hourly rates as low as possible.

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Wrong Graham. Read their responses to the consultation. They don't want this either

Yassin Dickie, Community pharmacist

What future is there for a young pharmacist starting out in the profession, assuming of course that they can find a pre-reg place and can eventually get onto the register in the first place,? The outlook is grim to say the least.

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