Scottish universities have quadrupled their number of independent prescribing courses to help reach government targets, C+D has learned.
In 2013 The Scottish government set out plans for every pharmacist to become an independent prescriber by 2023, and NHS Education for Scotland (NES) told C+D it had commissioned Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and the University of Strathclyde to each run two courses, to launch in either 2015 or early 2016. Now, there is only one course offered between both universities.
Professor Donald Cairns, head of pharmacy and life sciences at Robert Gordon University, told C+D that its two courses would help deal with the "huge backlog" of pharmacists requiring prescribing training in order to reach the government's goal.
"This is a golden opportunity for the two schools of pharmacy, who will be responsible for upskilling the workforce to become independent prescribers,” he said.
Professor Philip Winn, head of Strathclyde University's pharmacy and biomedical sciences institute, said he anticipated that more courses would be developed in the future.
“We will continue to work with NES to provide more independent prescribing courses and to develop the clinical skills courses,” he told C+D.
NES assistant director of pharmacy Anne Watson told C+D that around a fifth of pharmacists in Scotland had completed or were taking training to become independent prescribers. NES was planning to increase the number of courses over the coming years, she confirmed.