Health Education England (HEE) announced last month that up to 126 training places have been reserved for pre-regs to split their time between community pharmacy and GP practices.
Of the 126 reserved places, independent chain Imaan Healthcare has secured five pre-regs who will divide their time between working in the group’s pharmacies and local GP surgeries, the chain’s head of training Khalid Khan told C+D last week (June 5).
However, while the five Imaan Healthcare pre-reg placements funded by HEE will start in 2019, the chain is trialling the programme with 10 other pre-regs “from this summer”, to ensure “[it] is fit for purpose”.
Rather than split the pre-reg year into “two chunks” of six-month placements, the scheme will involve GP surgery placements running “parallel” to community pharmacy placements, he explained.
Placements in “our [pharmacies] in the north, [including] Manchester” will be split with “two-and-a-half days in the practice and two-and-a-half-days in the community pharmacy”, while London placements will be a “morning-afternoon split”, Mr Khan said.
All of these pre-regs will complete tasks such as monitoring blood, conducting care home ward rounds, managing long-term conditions and carrying out immunisations, Mr Khan explained.
12-month placements “dying a death”
“I think we have to accept that the old-style 12-month placement is slowly dying a death,” he said.
Running the placements concurrently during the week will ensure they “really complement each other” and pre-regs will see the “seamless transition across primary care”, Mr Khan added.
The project is about “future-proofing” the NHS, he said, to help “solve the GP workforce crisis”, while “upskilling pharmacists” to work across primary care.
Current NHS England guidelines suggest a pharmacist should be qualified for two years before joining general practice. However, Mr Khan said qualified pharmacists with two years’ experience in a different sector are “thrown in the deep end” if they then join a GP surgery.
The scheme’s aim is to develop “pre-regs to be able to get into [the GP pharmacist] role almost from day one”, Mr Khan said, so they are “better prepared than someone who has been thrown in after two years working in a community hospital”, for example.
“We need to get out of our comfort zone and so do [trainee pharmacists],” he added.
Mental health placement trial
As well as the variation in how the placements will be split, they “won’t be one-size-fits-all”, Mr Khan explained.
In a separate trial, one pre-reg due to join Imaan Healthcare this summer will undertake a placement at a private mental health hospital, he said.
“She’ll be doing medicines, audit rounds…working with multidisciplinary teams [and] liaising with the consultants.”
If the trial is successful, “that’s something else we’ll be rolling out”, he added.