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Your South West School of Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation

27 November 2023

The NHS England Workforce, Training and Education South West School of Pharmacy and Medicines Optimisation team are responsible for the commissioning and ongoing quality management of Trainee Pharmacist and Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technician (PTPT) training posts across the South West. The team looks after approximately 300 trainees across the region.

If you are interested in getting involved in any of the below activities with Trainee Pharmacists and Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technicians, contact the team for further information.

Trainee Pharmacists

Trainee Pharmacists undertake a 52-week foundation training programme after completing a four-year undergraduate degree. This training occurs predominantly within hospital or community pharmacies, including various diverse sectors to develop essential skills, knowledge and behaviours expected of a pharmacist, Completion leads to registration with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) by meeting 54 learning outcomes and passing an assessment.

Currently overseen by NHS England WT&E, the placement’s commissioning, funding, and quality management are limited to the NHS-managed sector. However, transitioning from 2025/2026, the Statutory Education Body will oversee all NHS and community pharmacy trainees, under the new Initial Education and Training Standards, enabling them to become Independent Prescribers upon registration.

Oriel, a national scheme, handles placement recruitment passed on trainee preferences and performance based on their performance in a standardised assessment. In 2023/2024, 92 trainees commenced their training placements across the South West NHS-managed sector, fifty in hospitals for 52 weeks, and 42 in rotations between eight and 26 weeks in various sectors including:

  • general practice
  • community pharmacy
  • mental health
  • integrated care systems
  • health and justice

The team also provides training courses aiding in competency achievement and assessment preparation. Increasing access since 2021, they've included 20 more trainees from community pharmacies in the regional training course for the 2023/2024 period, involving regional training days and local learning sets across the South West. The training days include:

Regional training days

  • Welcome event for all trainees
  • First aid, vaccination, and clinical skills
  • Careers, abstracts, and primary care
  • Advanced clinical skills and decision-making
  • Assessment preparation
  • Education and research for all trainees

Local learning sets

  • Respiratory
  • Cardiovascular
  • Infections
  • Endocrine
  • Surgery and GI
  • Mental Health
  • Renal and Liver
  • Neurology
  • Paediatrics
  • Case presentations

Additional learning elements

  • OSCEs
  • Audit/Quality Improvement project
  • Online practice registration assessment
  • Preparation for practice webinar

These comprehensive training elements equip our trainees with a multifaceted understanding and practical expertise, preparing them for their successful journey as skilled pharmacists.

Pre-registration Trainee Pharmacy Technicians

Pre-registration trainee pharmacy technicians (PTPT) undertake a GPhC-accredited two-year apprenticeship combining practical work with distance learning or college-based study. Upon successful completion, they can register with the GPhC as a pharmacy technician. NHS England WT&E provides a training contribution to NHS trusts for the work-based experience, while organisations use the apprenticeship levy for the training course.

Initial education and training for pharmacy technicians is a key enabler for strengthening the workforce pipeline and ensuring the right numbers are available to help deliver the new service models set out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. NHS England WT&E South West has invested in expanding commissions. In addition to commissioning PTPTs for the NHS-managed sector, the team introduced national funding for integrated PTPT (IPTPT) placements in general practice, community pharmacy and hospitals as part of the Pharmacy Technician Workforce Expansion Programme.

For NHS-managed sector commissions, NHS England WT&E South West Pharmacy is responsible for commissioning and funding the PTPT programme, providing a specified training contribution covering a 104-week training period. For the past seven years, the number of commissions has grown, including with the number of approved placements of a total of 88. A 10% increase for the 2023 – 2025 cycle. For the upcoming 2024 - 2025 cycle, there is a demand for 95 placements.

The Pharmacy Technician Workforce Expansion Programme, which offers integrated PTPT placements, aims to facilitate educational transformation, enabling a supply of pharmacy technicians into primary care roles while maintaining stability across other healthcare sectors. The programme is designed to grow the pharmacy technician workforce and is aligned with the aims outlined in the:

- NHS Long Term Plan,

- NHS Long Term Workforce Plan

- NHS People Plan

- NHS England WT&E Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacy Support Staff Workforce Development Strategy. 

Building upon the success of two national pilots from February 2020 – 2022, the Pharmacy Technician Workforce Expansion Programme has expanded to include an addition of four cohorts in the South West.

Applications for the 54 funded placements available across the South West were processed through an expression of interest submitted via an online application. The application window opened in August and received a total of 36 expressions of interest, with 115 funded placements requested. Out of these, 89 met the pass work of 60%.

By the end of September, 54 funded placements were awarded. Currently, employers are in the recruitment process with the aim of PTPTs commencing their apprenticeship in February 2024.