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Review of education and training

The Advancing Pharmacy Education and Training (APET) review examined the current model of education and training for the pharmacy workforce to establish what training structures and funding models will best support a pharmacy workforce able to meet future patient need.

The review built on responses received to our draft Workforce Strategy and previous work on Modernising Pharmacy Careers. It takes account of an increasingly complex health and care system, technological advances and a changing trend inpatient and service needs. The review is also aligned with the NHS’ Long Term Plan, the NHS Interim People Plan and the NHS People Plan.

Key APET recommendations are being implemented, including:

  • Establishing a new Interim Foundation Pharmacist Programme (IFPP). Find out more here 
  • Working with partners to provide a programme to realise the new Initial Education and Training standards for pharmacists published by the General Pharmaceutical Council. Changes include the current pre-registration year evolving into a Foundation training year and will be informed by the IFPP. This will entail evolving support for trainees and supervisors. Find out more here
  • Developing our strategy for pharmacy technician and pharmacy support staff. Find out more here

The review makes a number of recommendations that are evidence-based, cost-effective, future-focused, and meet the needs of the future workforce and patients.

The Advancing Pharmacy Education and Training Review and a slide summary can be found at the bottom of this page.

The Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacy Support Staff Workforce Development Strategy is also at the bottom of this page under 'Related Documents'.


Related work

We are working with the Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK) to analyse the roles of pharmacy technicians in the early stages of their careers.

We have asked the Work Psychology Group (WPG) in partnership with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) to lead on the work, which will look at roles across the health systems in the UK. The WPG will be carrying out research wit a range of pharmacy stakeholders.

In early 2020 APTUK and the RPS will undertake a survey to capture views on of a range of behaviours and attributes considered important for early-career pharmacy technicians to possess.

APTUK will use the analysis to guide the design and review of a UK-wide Foundation Pharmacy Technician Framework that will inform professional capabilities to be tested at the point of entry, during development and upon completion of training programmes. 

This work is an important step for identifying the development of pharmacy technicians, ensuring we have a flexible workforce that will support all care settings in line with the findings from Health Education England’s Advancing Pharmacy Education and Training review and the NHS Long Term Plan.

Commenting, Dalgeet Puaar, HEE National Lead for Pharmacy Technicians said

"HEE is delighted to be working with partners on this research. The role analysis will contribute towards our understanding of the current demands and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians working at foundation level. This is a timely and welcome collaboration which will inform future education and training provision and support the development of a flexible workforce which is both competent and confident to work across care settings, in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.” 


Commenting, Liz Fidler, President of APTUK said

"This work is critical to enable the full range of skills and knowledge of the pharmacy technician profession to be fully utilised. Understanding the skillset of pharmacy technicians is a key enabler to ensuring pharmacy services can evolve through effective skill mix within the pharmacy team. The results of this analysis will lead to supporting an evidence-based career pathway underpinned by standardised education, which will benefit the patients and the pharmacy profession."


Commenting, Gail Fleming, RPS Director of Education said

"For pharmacy to optimise its role in a multidisciplinary environment, the contribution of each member of the pharmacy team needs to be defined and recognised. This work is an important step in understanding the current and future roles of pharmacy technicians across different sectors of practice. We are delighted to be involved and to proactively support the development of the whole pharmacy team."

Working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, we have analysed the roles of pharmacists in the early stages of their careers. The report can be found at the bottom of this page.

The Work Psychology Group (WPG) led on the work, which reflect roles in all four UK health systems. The WPG conducted desk research as well as interviews and focus groups with a range of pharmacy stakeholders. They also undertook a survey asking participants for their views on of a range of behaviours and attributes considered important for early career pharmacists to possess. These findings have been used by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) to develop a Foundation Pharmacist Framework.


HEE commissioned a piece of research examining pharmacists’ and pharmacy technicians’ views on pre- and post-registration education and training to determine how prepared pharmacy professionals felt to carry out future roles and associated activities in their profession.

The findings from this research will help inform HEE’s ongoing work to support the pharmacy workforce and support the delivery of recommendations made in the Advancing Pharmacy Education and Training (APET) review.

View the Executive Summary and Full Report.

In partnership with key stakeholders, we have established an Interim Foundation Pharmacist Programme to help provisionally registered pharmacists transition to full GPhC registration and beyond.

This new education and training programme is helping to support the 2019/20 cohort of pre-registration pharmacists whose training and registration have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides a unique opportunity to accelerate pharmacist early years’ education and training reform and supports delivery of the NHS People Plan for 2020/21.

The aims of the programme are:

 - To support provisionally registered pharmacists in England transition to full GPhC registration and beyond;
 - To develop pharmacists’ ability to achieve high-quality outcomes for patients and improve patient safety; and
 - To inform the next stage of pharmacist education and reform.

The programme is running for 12 months, starting from September 2020, and will be available to all provisionally registered pharmacists providing NHS funded care and services in England.

Find out more 

Foundation training is designed to give trainee pharmacists the support, direction, information and resources they need to bridge the transition from studying to registering as pharmacists. As part of the Trainee Pharmacist Foundation Year Programme, we are developing new resources for training sites: a practice-based assessment strategy, e-portfolio, and virtual learning and information resources are coming onstream to quality assure the training and assessment of all trainee pharmacists in England.

Find out more

The 2021 Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacy Support Staff workforce Development Strategy follows on from Advancing pharmacy education and training: a review, published by Health Education England in January 2019. The strategy focuses on pharmacy technicians and pharmacy support staff, in particular:

- Setting out the current pharmacy technician and pharmacy support staff workforce landscape, including key policy and strategic drivers influencing change in the workforce

- Describing the education and training required to meet these changes

- Setting out our priorities for the next five years, to support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan and NHS People Plan

The strategy will underpin the development of workstreams, to define how these priorities will be delivered and implemented at a national and regional level, and will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Read the Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacy Support Staff workforce development strategy.