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University mulls opening pharmacy school after student cap rejection

A university is considering opening a pharmacy school in response to the government's rejection of a student numbers cap, C+D has learned.

The government's decision to reject the sector's call for a cap on student numbers gave universities the opportunity to explore the "feasibility" of expanding their pharmacy intake or opening their own school, Plymouth University told C+D on Wednesday (November 26).

The university, which already trains doctors, dentists, physiotherapists and podiatrists, said it was examining the possible financial model for its own pharmacy school. It would also need to assess the opportunities for clinical practice placements before it made its decision, it added.

The university was highlighted in parliament by all-party pharmacy group vice-chair, Conservative MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, Oliver Colvile, who highlighted the effects of rejecting the cap.

Mr Colvile asked health minister Daniel Poulter whether the university's Peninsula Medical School should "press ahead" with setting up facilities to train pharmacists in light of the government's verdict, in a parliamentary debate on Tuesday (November 25).

Mr Poulter MP responded that there was "ample scope" for Plymouth University to expand its training of healthcare professionals. The university's Peninsula Medical School was becoming an "outstanding medical and healthcare training facility", and Mr Poulter had visited the institution to observe its "excellent work" in training medical and dental students, he said.

In its consultation on student numbers published last month, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) noted that, although the "majority" of respondents favoured some form of cap, research-intensive universities were in favour of allowing the market continue to determine outcomes.

Last month, C+D readers labelled the government's rejection of the cap "a joke".

Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin told C+D last week that the government was right not to enforce a cap, because the oversupply of pharmacists would correct itself as pharmacists moved abroad.

How will the creation of more pharmacy schools affect the sector? 

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D Pharm, Locum pharmacist

Mr Tobin has lost the plot, "the oversupply of pharmacists would correct itself as pharmacists moved abroad". Dont you mean when they move BACK abroad. It is amazing how words are chosen carefully.

Yorkshire Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I can't be alone in thinking that perhaps doing an MPharm degree was a mistake. Certainly ones who, like myself, who qualified in the last few years.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Sorry to say big mistake

Neeraj Salwan, Superintendent Pharmacist

"Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin told C+D last week that the government was right not to enforce a cap, because the oversupply of pharmacists would correct itself as pharmacists moved abroad."
What a cop out & total unresearched approach to such a big problem. Yeah let's just hope future pharmacists pap off overseas, wasting all the taxes of tax payers used to fund these pharmacists through their degree.. That's called burying your head in the sand and hoping for the best

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

To anyone reading this who is thinking of studying pharmacy:
1/ You will end up leaving university owing £60,000
2/ If you do manage to get a job it will be minimum wage
3/ You will be treated like sh..e
4/ If you complain you will be fired and replaced from the pool of unemployed pharmacists
Still interested?
If so you're an idiot

Paul Mayberry, Community pharmacist

We aren't going to be able to turn the clock back on this, so we have to turn it into an opportunity.
We are always told that there aren't enough GP's, that we need 8000 more, etc
We should all engage with the decision makers & commissioners and explain we don't need more GP's , they just need to utilise pharmacists more.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Hi Paul,

I do not believe there is any way that this situation (the massive oversupply of Pharmacists) can ever be turned into an advantage. The damage caused by oversupply could well be fatal to the profession.

Whilst what you say regarding utilising Pharmacists more makes perfect sense the GP’s and their formidable lobby will never allow Pharmacists to encroach on what they perceive as their territory. The current shortage of GP’s suits them well as it gives them a powerful bargaining position when negotiating, creaming off the services they want at the price they want.

Robert Rees, Manager

I agree. We need strong (or desperate) politicians, prepared to take on the GP's in the same way Maggie did with the other Miners & other Unions. In 1978 you would have said exactly the same about the unions, they would never have accepted change unless it was forced upon them.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

It suits them very well and there will never be an over supply of Gp's or delegation in any real way to pharmacy. When independent ownership faded and corporates grabbed market share, we lost the ability to control our own future. The oversupply will prove very corrosive to the profession as a whole (whether there are individual beacons of success) over the next few years unless there is meaningful wholesale change. I don't count on it myself !

London Locum, Locum pharmacist


Robert Rees, Manager

If you don't have a dream, and I don't have a dream, how we gone a have a dream come true!

Mark Galloway, Pharmacy

Speaking as a fellow pharmacist I am dismayed by the turn of events recently regarding the numbers of schools of pharmacy and the numbers of pharmacists.

It is a tragedy that some with the pharmacy masters degree cannot get on the register and those that do complete their pre-registration training face a future on low wages.

Our profession is becoming a laughing stock frankly in part due to circumstances outside of its control!

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

If they were Human, some universities would tick all the boxes for a sociopath when their decisions and actions are examined. Considering creating yet another School of Pharmacy is a good example.

And, should it go ahead, dare we hope this university is going to be VERY honest and truthful with prospective students about the most probable future for those aspiring to a career as a pharmacist?

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Bear in mind they'll probably have a Boots teacher/practioner knocking about to hoodwink the students as they progress through the course. Poor kids will then land back on earth whrn they're told to be grateful for earning £9/hr

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Confirmation if you needed that it's all about the money. Why the heck is another Pharmacy school needed. Study something else kids. Don't get mugged by these shysters.

Robert Rees, Manager

Yeah, study for a qualification in a profession that isn't all about the money! Suggestions please??

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