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Initial education and training of pharmacists - reform programme

In January 2021, the GPhC published the revised Standards for the Initial Education and Training of Pharmacists

This marks an exciting moment for the profession, as they provide a set of new learning outcomes that span the whole 5-year initial training period (MPharm degree and the Foundation Training Year) and can link to a continuum of development into post-registration.

These new learning outcomes provide newly qualified pharmacists with the necessary consultation skills and confidence to provide the clinical services expected by patients and the NHS, working across health systems - and will enable pharmacists to be independent prescribers at the point of registration.

By 2026, the aim is for all newly registered pharmacists to be able to independently prescribe medicines.  

Spring 2022 update

Our aim is to reform pharmacist education and training pathways, to enable pharmacists to enable them to play a much greater role in providing clinical care from their first day of registration.

Our commitment is supported by major infrastructure changes and investment.

We recognise that change requires everyone’s input and expertise. It will not happen overnight, but along with our partners, we are taking great strides on the journey towards transformation.   

Read this presentation on progress to date

Developing training across the MPharm and the Foundation Training Year

To support the development of a continuum of education between the MPharm and the foundation training year, we are working with the Pharmacy Schools Council to explore how training activities can be developed in clinical placements during the MPharm. We are also developing a shared approach to prescribing training, and engaging with students and trainees to improve access to pharmacist education and training.

Entrustable Professional Activities

Together with the Pharmacy Schools Council and employer representatives, we are working on the activities that could  be carried out by pharmacy undergraduates while on placement in the pharmacy workplace. This follows the recent announcement that pharmacy has been added to the list of professions eligible for the clinical tariff during undergraduate training. The group is looking at how undergraduate pharmacy students can move from observing tasks, to being entrusted to carry them out with the appropriate level of supervision. This will support students to gain practice-based skills effectively during the MPharm, preparing them for their training year.

Independent Prescribing

The IETP reform will see pharmacists joining the register as independent prescribers in 2026. To support this, we are working with the Pharmacy Schools Council to develop a shared approach to prescribing training in the MPharm and the foundation training year. This will support a smooth transition from the MPharm to year 5. We will also be developing and testing models of prescribing training and assessment in year 5 over the next few years, in preparation for this being brought into the foundation training year in 2025/2026.

Improving access to pharmacist education and training

We commissioned Verve Communications to explore in detail what students and trainees feel either encourages, or presents obstacles to, access routes into professional training. Thank you to all those who took part in our online listening exercise in April. We heard from future trainee pharmacists about access routes to clinical placements through the lens of their experience as carers, students with disabilities, and students from LGBTQI+ and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Early feedback indicates that participants welcomed the idea of undergraduate clinical placements and experiencing different settings as part of their placements, so long as there was equity in access.

Further activities

  • Pilot-testing clinical placement models for undergraduate training programmes (MPharm).

  • Delivering the Trainee Pharmacist Foundation Year in 2021-22 – Developing resources to support trainee pharmacists as they transition from undergraduate study into pre-registration training.

  • Expanding access to cross-sector foundation training places via the Trainee Pharmacists in General Practice Programme: Giving trainee pharmacists the opportunity to spend between three and six months in general practice, in conjunction with hospital or community pharmacy foundation training. 

  • Developing the Newly Qualified Pharmacist pathway from 2021/22 – A development pathway for pharmacists in their first year of practice. This pathway responds to the need for a consistently skilled workforce until the IET reforms are fully implemented. Training is designed to integrate with work commitments, complementing existing workplace and postgraduate learning.
  • Working with NHS England & NHS Improvement to develop the Pharmacy Integration Programme.

Please read our statement on the revised standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists at the bottom of this page.  

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Contact us

Get in touch at pharmacyteam@hee.nhs.uk.