The government said last Friday (May 5) the “consensus view” from an advisory group – comprising of the two schools of pharmacy, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) and other stakeholders – was to recommend progressing from the current four-year degree and one-year pre-registration training to a five-year degree.
NHS Education for Scotland (NES) announced in August 2016 it was considering replacing the four-year degree, which chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr said would help to manage student numbers to "meet workforce demand".
Not a unanimous decision
The advisory group concluded in its report that a five-year degree would provide opportunities to “better prepare” new pharmacists for practice in Scotland and would result in “better management of pharmacy trainee numbers”.
It also said it would support the government's aim for every GP practice to have access to a pharmacist with “advanced clinical skills”.
However, the report published by the group said the decision “was not unanimous”.
The heads of the two pharmacy schools – Robert Gordon University and Strathclyde – had concerns around resource availability, the impact on international students, and the time-frame given to deliver the change.
The group also said the change would be delivered “within the existing funding envelope”.
Changes should be “appropriately managed”
CPS CEO Harry McQuillan said the representative body sat on the initial advisory group and would expect to be part of any working groups tasked with making the concept of an integrated five-year degree a reality.
“The CPS board will contribute their combined expertise and experience through the appropriate channels,” Mr McQuillan said.
He added it is “in the best interests” of the pharmacy network, prospective students and the public, that any changes that would affect students' experience are “appropriately managed”.