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Boots and Well part of pharmacist apprenticeships 'trailblazer' group

Well: We are working with other pharmacy organisations to explore new routes to qualification
Well: We are working with other pharmacy organisations to explore new routes to qualification

Boots and Well are among a group of at least 10 pharmacy employers that proposed pharmacist apprenticeships.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education – an employer-led public body not affiliated with a government department – launched a 10-day consultation on proposals for a five-year pharmacist apprenticeship scheme, which closed yesterday (April 14).

Boots told C+D today that it is a member of the group, “along with a number of other pharmacy organisations” who are “together looking into a pharmacy apprenticeship proposal”.

The multiple stressed the proposal is “still in the early exploratory stages of consultation and no decisions have been taken” regarding its long-term viability.

Well said it is also part of the “trailblazer group” and is “working with employers from other sectors as well as community employers to explore new routes to qualification and registration”.

The Institute for Apprenticeships claimed Superdrug helped develop the proposals. C+D has asked Lloydspharmacy and Rowlands if they are involved in the trailblazer group.

“Support across the sector”

The Institute for Apprenticeships said the group “has the support of major organisations across the sector” including “a number of NHS trusts”.

It has also been “working closely with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the National Pharmacist[sic] Association”, the institute added.

However, the GPhC said its involvement was limited: “We have not contributed to drafting these proposals. We have attended two meetings to explain regulatory requirements in our role as the pharmacy regulator,” it said.

The National Pharmacy Association said it was part of early discussions about the scheme, but is not part of the trailblazer group.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said on Friday it has not contributed to the trailblazer “up to now”. It is looking for view on apprenticeships via email.

Addressing the skill gaps

The institute “works with employers to develop apprenticeships that address skill gaps identified by the employer and the sector as a whole”, it said.

It stressed that development would need GPhC accreditation and that it is “still at an early stage”.

“The costs of the training and assessment – as with all apprenticeships – would be funded by revenue generated by the apprenticeship levy,” it explained.

GPhC calls for longer consultation

The consultation, which the institute said was “circulated to stakeholders and representative groups”, has drawn a lot of comment and reaction on social media.

In a statement today, the GPhC urged the institute to “hold a further and more detailed consultation for a longer period if the proposals move forward, to enable everyone with views on the proposals to fully contribute”.

C+D has contacted the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education for further comment.

What is the trailblazer group?

The standards for apprenticeships are formed by a trailblazer group of employers who are reflective of a sector, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education says in a general definition. To become a trailblazer group employers need to submit a proposal to the institute.

The group of at least 10 employers “come together as the creators and early adopters of new apprenticeship standards”, the institute said.

“Professional bodies and trade associations can also be members, but do not count towards the total of employers,” the institute states.

The other pharmacy companies and bodies that are part of the group have not yet been made public.

However, Laura McEwan-Smith, an expert in apprenticeships, said: “If the Institute for Apprenticeships approves progression to the apprenticeship standard development stage, the full list of employers, including contact details of the group chair, will be published online.”

Did you respond to the apprenticeship proposal consultation?

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

I think a change of the law to one pharmacist can only own one , or two at the most , pharmacies . Instant eradication of the big multiples .

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Paying dispensary staff peanuts isn't good enough it seems. At £7.35/£7.42 an hour on average reported on Indeed, it's a massive step backwards compared to a supermarket such as Lidl with £9.38 on average.

It's stats like this that show how little support staff are actually valued for the responsible and legally liable work that they do.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

With the latest report showing Well being behind in terms of their profit margins, it gets me to thinking how beneficial would apprenticeships be for these companies to their bottom lines?

Meera Sharma, Primary care pharmacist

I read the consultation yesterday and thought, this smacks of multiples who want cheap labour. Surprisingly, today that suspicion got confirmed! What a surprise that the company that doesn't want to pay its pharmacists properly, suddenly had this brainwave of an idea. Why would this not be a noble cause???! Anyone believeing this "noble idea" should really have their heads examined - and that includes our "esteemed" RPS/GPhC who supposedly act for the profession?!

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Who are the other 8 idiots? 

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

The list is likely to be Boots, Well, Lloyds, Rowlands, Superdrug, Cohens, Day Lewis and the 3 supermarkets Tesco, Morrisons and Asda.

Common sense tells me it’s any multiple who are large enough to have the apprenticeship levy applied to them. See here for for more info:


Demographics are destiny.



R A, Community pharmacist

Oh, what a shocker?

This should act as a warning to GP's don't let these guys near your sector otherwise they may come up with a radical scheme to bypass 5 years of medical degree + 2 years as foundation doctor + 3 years of VTS into another lovely apprentice scheme!  


H Saw, Community pharmacist

Can't believe that a regulated profession can be oppressed to this standard. "Thanks" to these multiples ! Does RPS has any stand on this matter? I am all ready to stop my membership and back PDA as our union / society. Guess we pharmacists really need to grow a spine before becoming cheap labor to these employers.

Keith Howell, Primary care pharmacist

Now is the time to stand up and be counted. We must take action friends. Sadly, the views of individual pharmacists are clearly not valued. We need to take some collective action. A protest with the threat of leaving the RPS unless they reject this proposal in the strongest possible terms would be a good start...

I plan to contact the local pharmacy forum and send a collective message to the RPS to this effect. I would encourage you all to do the same. If anyone is able to put together a gov petition I would gladly sign...

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

Can we also start a petition to derecognise GPhC and RPS because of their incompetence?

tanveer ahmed, Pre-reg Pharmacist

i am with you please inbox me on face book and we can setup a page


Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

To "address skill gaps"!!!!  Who are they trying to kid?

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

Pharmacy Schools are closing down due to lack of students and enthusiasm. The Industry has been debating how to deal with the Pharmacist oversupply situation and some bright spark from somewhere just dreamt of the Pharmacist apprenticeship scheme. With this, we will be the only profession to take the retrogressive step to where we started. We have the nominal respect now because we transformed the original apprenticeship scheme into a science-based degree programme. But no, with everything pointing the other way we are going back.
A similar apprenticeship scheme for technicians has been a disaster, producing keyboard tigers who each need two assistants to serve and help them. It's too ghastly to contemplate the quality of Professional we will provide.
The biggest question is why pursue this rather than fight to review category M drugs and the hopeless remuneration tariffs.
We are a laughing stock

Mohammed Zeeshan, Locum pharmacist

I hope Boots,well ,and  any other greedy corporates suffer such a massive financial black hole and they collapse in to oblivion.cant wait.......

tanveer ahmed, Pre-reg Pharmacist

let bycot royal society of pharmaceutical sciences they donot represent me let support pda and do something about it 

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Next week we shall be asking foxes about henhouse security measures and why they should be relaxed. Stay tuned.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Bumped my head after falling down with shock. Boots and Well !! Who would have thought it eh ?!

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist strange that two of the more unpleasant and aggressive multiples are at the forefront of getting cheap pharmacy labour. That was wholly unexpected.

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