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Undergraduate Clinical Placement Models

We are working with Schools of Pharmacy in England to explore the introduction of cross-sector clinical placements as part of the MPharm degree.

Introducing clinical placements in the MPharm degree will:

  • Meet the new learning objectives set out by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
  • Build undergraduate students’ competence and confidence in working as part of multi-professional teams.
  • Prepare pharmacy graduates for their foundation training year and registration assessment.  

Testing and development

Developing an appropriate clinical placement model requires a period of testing and development in 2021/22.

Schools of Pharmacy will work with placement providers to develop and test placement models for students in years 2, 3 and 4 of the MPharm degree.  

Approaches will be evaluated. Evidence, learning and recommendations for future clinical placement strategies will be shared with all schools of pharmacy and key stakeholders.

Funding process

Pharmacy Schools in England have been invited to apply for HEE funding, either on an individual school basis or as collaboratives, to start developing these approaches.    

Pharmacy Schools that are successful in bids for this funding will be looking to work with pharmacy employers within the health system to develop clinical placements. 

The approaches being tested are anticipated to extend and enrich clinical learning in all sectors of practice for pharmacy students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please contact the national pharmacy team at pharmacyteam@hee.nhs.uk with any additional questions. 

What are the funding mechanisms for providing clinical placement pilots?

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) who have successfully bid to pilot an undergraduate pharmacist clinical placement in 2021/2022 will receive funding from Health Education England via the NHS Education Contract. HEIs will divest funding to placement providers in line with bid proposals, including making any payments to placement providers directly.

My placement provider has an NHS Education Contract in place. Can they be funded directly by Health Education England for this pilot?

No, for the purposes of this pilot, HEE will pay the funding to the HEI directly, which will then make payments to placement providers.

What is the educational contract between Health Education England and successful pilot HEIs?

For the purposes of this pilot, the educational contract required is between Health Education England and the successful HEI (University). The NHS Education Contract provides the framework for payment.

Please note that the NHS Education Contract is directly with the HEI and not with the Pharmacy Department/School of Pharmacy directly. Your HEI may already have an NHS Education Contract in place to cover other activities, which will meet the needs of payments for this pilot.

As the HEI is receiving funding from Health Education England and divesting funding to placement providers, there is no need for placement providers to have an NHS Education Contract in place.

It is the responsibility of the HEIs to have placement agreements in place with the placement providers they fund.

My HEI does not have an NHS Education Contract in place. Is there an alternative arrangement?  

No, you will need to ensure an NHS Education Contract is established.

How will HEIs quality assure clinical placements?

In this model, the HEI will support the governance arrangements around placement quality using the process set out in their bid. It is the responsibility of the HEIs to have placement agreements in place with the placement providers they fund.

If, due to circumstances out of their control (such as a Covid surge), HEIs need to reduce the number of students on clinical placements, will this require a contract amendment?

HEIs should make payment for the placements that are provided, where the model has variable costs associated with student numbers. Where HEI modelling includes some fixed costs, we would not expect these to vary with student numbers.

It may be appropriate for HEIs to vary their delivery according to emerging situations, so long as this is in line with the overarching principles set out in the Expression of Interest documentation for this pilot.

HEIs are asked to keep HEE informed about any significant changes that are needed in their operational delivery plan.

If a placement provider pulls out, can HEIs replace them with an alternative provider not originally included in their bid?

Yes, this would be acceptable. As noted above, it may be appropriate for HEIs to vary their delivery according to emerging situations, so long as this is in line with the overarching principles set out in the Expression of Interest documentation for this pilot.

In such circumstances, the HEI would be expected to provide assurance that the governance / quality assurance process described in their bid applies to any new provider.

HEIs are asked to keep HEE informed about any significant changes that are needed in their operational delivery plan.

Where face-to-face placement is no longer possible due to the impact of COVID-19, can HEIs change the delivery model from that originally proposed in the successful bid (e.g. virtual placement offerings)?

As noted in previous questions and answers: It may be appropriate for HEIs to vary their delivery according to emerging situations, so long as it is in line with the overarching principles set out in the Expression of Interest documentation for this pilot.

This may take the form of virtual placements using technology to access the patient-facing environment. It should be noted that simulation-based learning would not be viewed as being in line with the overarching principles of this pilot.

HEIs are asked to keep HEE informed about any significant changes that are needed in their operational delivery plan.