Nov 14
Pharmacy schools call for recognition of pharmacists’ contribution to healthcare

​The Pharmacy Schools Council has made it a priority to increase public understanding of pharmacists' contribution to both healthcare and the economy.

This is one of the key positions outlined in the Council's new Strategic Plan, which will guide the collective efforts of UK pharmacy schools for the next five years.

Pharmacists have the knowledge and skills to improve patient care, from front-line service delivery to research and leadership roles. Through their work in industry they are a pillar the UK's pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, leading to significant gains to the economy and of course expanding the capabilities of the health service in treating patients.

Building on links with industry is another of the priorities set out in the strategy, with pharmacy schools seeking to drive investment in UK pharmaceutical science research and ensure that it remains world-leading. Pharmacy is a key bridge between sectors, public and private, health and higher education, so this bridge must be maintained and developed. The focus of this is improved medicines and the optimisation of their use for patients.

Achieving this will require the continued supply of high-quality graduates who are as capable in industry as they are in the pharmacy and hospital. The Council's renewed focus on curriculum and assessment will ensure a high minimum standard required to graduate across all pharmacy schools. Keeping the content of courses focused on the needs of patients, employers, and protecting its rigorous core elements, will be central to this. Understanding and enhancing minimum standards requires a strong relationship between educators and the regulator, and pharmacy schools are committed to maintaining this relationship. 

The Pharmacy Schools Council acts as a national voice for the pharmacy schools, allowing them to provide leadership and expertise where important sectors meet. The Council works with key partners in these sectors such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the General Pharmaceutical Council, and others in sectors beyond, to ensure the continued excellence of pharmacy education. This new strategy will set the agenda for the Council's future collaboration.

Professor Nigel Ratcliffe, Chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council, said:

'We know that pharmacists are some of the most capable people in healthcare. It's time to make sure that everyone is aware just how skilled they are and what knowledge they have. Few are aware that in the UK the undergraduate education of a pharmacist is at Master's level

'We believe that workforce planning in the health service should therefore place even greater emphasis on the contribution that these brilliant individuals make. Optimising their input in healthcare can further help ensure that resources are balanced more efficiently. This is cost effective and will improve patient care. The science behind new medicines is accelerating at a tremendous pace. Ensuring the optimisation of the use of new and established medicines is extremely important and the Pharmacist is well equipped to lead in this domain.

'To make this case we want to build on our already strong links with partners across the sector, to make sure that the provision and use of medicines in the UK is world-leading and to ensure that the education of pharmacists in the UK continues to be world-leading.'

Link: The Pharmacy Schools Council Strategic Plan 2017–2021



  1. The Pharmacy Schools Council represents the collective interests of 30 UK schools of pharmacy. It provides a source of expert opinion and advice on matters concerning pharmacy education from the perspective of UK pharmacy schools. For more information, visit
  2. For matters concerning this press release, or the activities of the Pharmacy Schools Council more broadly, please contact Edward Knight, Senior Communications Officer, at, or call on 020 7419 5427.
Dec 16
Pharmacy Schools Council announces Chair elect

​The Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) is pleased to announce that Professor Nigel Ratcliffe FRPharmS has been elected to Chair the Council from 1 January 2017.

Professor Ratcliffe is Head of the School of Pharmacy at Keele University. Until August last year he was Chair of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent NHS partnership Trust and has also been Chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Councils Appointments Board. Professor Ratcliffe has been a pharmacist for 35 years, during which he has practised in community and hospital pharmacy but was principally employed within Research and Development and Strategic Partnering within the global pharmaceutical Industry. During his career he has practised and taught in Japan, the USA and Sweden.

The Council welcomes Professor Ratcliffe to the position of Chair as it enters a new phase. Professor Ratcliffe said:

'I am very excited to be taking up the role of Chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council. It is absolutely clear that pharmacy plays a vital role in society, through health care delivery, drug research, development and medicine optimisation. It is therefore integral, particularly in this period of uncertainty that we continue to maintain our world-class education and research.

'Pharmacy education and training has developed greatly over the last few years. I hope to see this progress continued and look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that it does and is well recognised both nationally and internationally. It is vital also that the value and contribution of research within university schools of pharmacy is also recognised.'

He succeeds Professor Yvonne Perrie, who said:

'My time as Chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council has been an enjoyable and productive experience. I would like to thank my colleagues for all their hard work and ingenuity in meeting the issues of pharmacy education. I wish Nigel the best of luck and know that he will do a terrific job.'

Professor Marcus Rattray, Head of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Bradford has been elected Deputy Chair. The Executive Committee has also been expanded for 2017 with the election of Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham.  A further Executive post will go out to nominations in the New Year.

In the ever-evolving landscape of UK pharmacy education, the Pharmacy Schools Council is committed to providing inclusive and informed leadership. The Executive Committee aims to facilitate deeper engagement between Council members and with its stakeholders. The Committee will also help focus the output of the Council in order that it can continue to represent the collective interests and views of schools of pharmacy and further its objectives to continually advance the education, training and future role of the Pharmacist.



  1. The Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) represents the collective interests of 30 UK schools of pharmacy. It provides a source of expert opinion and advice on matters concerning pharmacy education from the perspective of UK schools. For more information, please visit
  2. For matters concerning this press release, or the activities of the PhSC more broadly, please contact Edward Knight, Senior Communications Officer, at, or call on 020 7419 5427.
Aug 04
PhSC responds to Pharmaceutical Journal article 'MPharm degree fails to equip pharmacists for future roles'

The following response was published by the Pharmaceutical Journal on 03/08/2015.

The Pharmacy Schools Council is concerned by the publication of the article in the Pharmaceutical Journal which appears to declare the 'failure' of the current MPharm degree in educating pharmacists for future roles. We strongly disagree with this sentiment, and feel it is extremely important to stress the high-quality of UK MPharm degrees and the excellent graduates these courses produce.

The article and the 'Tomorrow's Pharmacy Team' publication, to which it refers[1], lack any evidence or internationally comparative data to support the assertion that the current MPharm course (as outlined by the GPhC 'Future pharmacist, Standard for the initial education and training of pharmacists, May 2011)  is ill-equipped to meet the demands of the changes in the profession.  The GPhC document has noted that the assumptions within 'Tomorrow's pharmacy team' are based on 'initial conclusions…which we need to test', which the Pharmacy Schools Council welcomes.

If there is in fact evidence to suggest that the current MPharm does not 'equip pharmacists with the skills needed to deliver the care and the services that will be expected of them in the future', it does not necessarily follow that the MPharm itself has failed, as it is meeting and surpassing the standards that have been set by the regulator.  

There is a real need to recognise the advances that pharmacy education has made, particularly within the last five years. The current MPharm has seen significant improvements that are only visible in the graduates of 2014/15, who experienced a considerably increased level of clinical exposure throughout their education. Much of this exposure has been introduced early only on within MPharm courses – a strategy which stems from the evidence base that suggests early clinical exposure is particularly valuable. This could prove to be more innovative than proposals which incorporate clinical placements into year four of the programme. The viewpoint set out in this article does not take into account these changes and the impact that they have had on graduates.

Schools are continually developing and responding to the changing healthcare landscape, and to predictions of the roles pharmacists will play in the future. Missing from the document is praise of the education's ability to meet the demand for creating strong clinical scientists with a sound knowledge of new and complex medicines.

Employers have widely declared that they hope to recruit large numbers of additional pharmacists over the next five years in order to help to fill the gap left by GP shortages in practices and to fill national pilots for pharmacists to work in emergency care departments. This indicates that Trusts already recognise the skills, abilities and value of qualified pharmacists.

'Integration' needs to be clearly defined before it can be supported. It needs to be made clear whether this refers to further integrated clinical exposure or to a science-practice integration. This will require an evidence based approach. Integration comprises many options and it is important that this is not rushed through without facilitating a broad understanding and long-term view of what will be needed in the profession in the future. Integration is not a simplistic solution and analysis of what might currently be wrong with pharmacy education has not yet been carried out. 

The article also fails to recognise the connection between undergraduate and postgraduate studies.  For example; medical graduates are not immediately expected to be experts in all roles and specialities, nor are doctors finishing their F2 medical placements. Whilst pharmacy schools are able to produce highly qualified MPharm graduates, it is unrealistic to suggest that graduates should be able to move into all of the roles pharmacists undertake as soon as they finish their pre-registration year.

The GPhC clearly recognises that standards need to be achievable and affordable. Whilst we agree this should not be the primary focus for change it should be considered to set the parameters and realities of what can be achieved within undergraduate education. It will be impossible to separate the need for greater funding from calls for more intense, integrated clinical training.

The international message that this article portrays for pharmacy education in the UK is a cause for concern. At a time of great opportunity for developing the role of the pharmacist, articles such as this may cast a shadow of doubt over the abilities of the UK's education system to provide capable graduates.

The Pharmacy Schools Council welcomes the GPhC consultation on 'Tomorrow's pharmacy team', and sees this as an opportunity for further development of the MPharm and for the strengthening of the pharmacist's role in society.  As experts on pharmacy education, we hope to take a leading role in helping to ensure that the best possible outcome for this process is reached.  


Professor Yvonne Perrie, Chair, Pharmacy Schools Council
Professor Kay Marshall, Deputy Chair, Pharmacy Schools Council


[1] The GPhC publication that the Pharmaceutical Journal article refers to is currently out to consultation to the public, patients and pharmacy stakeholders. Details of this can be found at

Oct 17
Press release – Pharmacy Schools Council responds to Rt Hon Greg Clark’s letter on student number controls in pharmacy

​The Pharmacy School Council welcomes the letter from the Rt. Hon. Greg Clark confirming number controls will not be applied to the MPharm.

It is imperative that the contribution of the profession to healthcare is recognised and that there is scope to consider the role of pharmacists in the future. The MPharm is rooted in robust science, and pharmacists are the experts in medicines. Being both a healthcare professional and a scientist is what makes the position of a pharmacist unique.

Professor Yvonne Perrie, Chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council, said:

'Medicine is advancing at a spectacular rate and the skills-set developed by pharmacists can be applied in a vast number of settings, from medicine design and manufacture to academia and pharmaceutical industry.

'Now is the time for the sector as a whole to come together and work to ensure that the unique position and contribution of pharmacists are recognised. Part of this will involve working to develop career paths suited for pharmacists' considerable skill-sets.

'The Pharmacy Schools Council looks forward to working with Health Education England to progress reforms to pharmacy education and training.'

As experts on pharmacy education, the Pharmacy Schools Council is working with key stakeholders across the pharmacy sector to develop a vision of what the role of the pharmacist will be in future, building on the work already undertaken as part of Modernising Pharmacy Careers. This will also consider the development and progression of pharmacy education in future.



  1. The Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) represents the collective interests of UK schools of pharmacy. It provides a source of expert opinion and advice on matters concerning pharmacy education from the perspective of UK schools. For more information, please visit
  2. The response from HEE-HEFCE follows a consultation on the potential management of the number of students in England, studying for an MPharm, the qualification required to enter into pre-registration training. Information relating to the consultation can be found on the HEE and HEFCE websites.
  3. For matters concerning this press release, or the activities of the PhSC more broadly, please contact Edward Knight, Communications and Website Officer, at, or call on 020 7419 5427.
Jun 17
Joint consultation response to HEE

PhSC has responded jointly to the Health Education England Research and Innovation Strategy with the following organisations:


May 27
PhSC Executive meets with Health Education England

HEFCE and Health Education England have recently consulted on the possible management of pharmacy student numbers. Members of the PhSC Executive met with Dr Sue Ambler, Professor Chris Welsh and Dr Keith Ridge from Health Education England in order to seek an update on the ongoing discussions regarding the potential management of pharmacy student numbers and the possible introduction of the Modernising Pharmacy Careers Work Stream I reforms.

By way of summary, ministers are considering the analysis of the responses to the first stage of the HEFCE-HEE consultation on the potential management of MPharm student numbers and a decision has not yet been made. Consequently, it is not yet known when the second stage of the consultation will be published. Nevertheless, it was suggested that there would be an appropriate amount of time between the announcement of any decision following the second stage of the consultation and any potential introduction of managed student numbers and that the second stage of the consultation would need to advance extremely quickly for managed student numbers to be progressed by the next recruitment cycle.

HEE noted that responses to the first stage of the consultation highlighted broad support for excluding international students from any potential mechanism to manage student numbers, HEE are considering this in light of the broader health education context and the wider needs of the NHS. There remains strong support for the recommendations of Modernising Pharmacy Careers Work Stream I and the funding mechanism which would enable the progression of an integrated five-year MPharm is being considered. It is suggested there would be a three-year lead in between a decision and the implementation of an integrated five-year degree.

Jan 28
PhSC explains pharmacy education

​The Pharmacy Schools Council has produced an article for popular student resource i-studentglobal explaining the essentials of pharmacy education.

See the article.

For a more in-depth look at pharmacy education, see our Students pages.

Jan 21
Pharmacy Schools Council announces new Chair

Press release

We are delighted to announce that Professor Yvonne Perrie, Head of Pharmacy at Aston University, has been elected the new Chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council. She succeeds Professor John Smart, Academic Director of Pharmacy at the University of Brighton, and takes up the post today.

Professor Perrie joined Aston University as a lecturer in 2000 and since 2007 has held the Chair in Drug Delivery. Prior to her current post as Head of Pharmacy she held various leadership roles within Aston's School of Life and Health Sciences, including Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching and Director of the Medicines Research Unit. Professor Perrie is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Liposome Research and Pharmaceutics, and Associate Editor for the Journal of Drug Targeting, the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, along with Pharmacy, an open-access journal on pharmacy education and practice. She currently has over 120 peer-reviewed publications and is recipient of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's Pharmaceutical Scientist of the Year Award for her contribution to developing a new tuberculosis vaccine.

As Chair, Professor Perrie will lead the Pharmacy Schools Council through ongoing discussions in the reform of pharmacy education, along with possible proposals to manage the number of Master of Pharmacy students. These discussions could have huge impacts on the future of pharmacy and the Pharmacy Schools Council will remain a vital part of the debate.

Professor Perrie said: 'I'd like to thank Professor John Smart for his work in leading the Pharmacy Schools Council. The last few years have seen an increasing emphasis on the potential of pharmacy in healthcare delivery and in turn on the reforms needed for this potential to be realised – and Professor Smart has been at the centre of these discussions. I look forward to leading the PhSC through them and ensuring that pharmacy schools remain influential.'

Professor Smart, the outgoing Chair, said: 'I am delighted that Professor Yvonne Perrie will take up the post of Chair of the Pharmacy Schools Council. It's an exciting time for pharmacy education and it's crucial that the PhSC stays at the forefront of this work. I look forward to continuing as a member of the Council and to the great work we can achieve under Professor Perrie's leadership in representing pharmacy education.'



  1. The Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) represents the collective interests of 27 UK schools of pharmacy. It provides a source of expert opinion and advice on matters concerning pharmacy education from the perspective of UK schools. For more information, please visit
  2. For matters concerning this press release, or the activities of the PhSC more broadly, please contact Edward Knight, Communications and Website Officer, at, or call on 020 7419 5427.
Jan 10
Ann Lewis OBE

The Pharmacy Schools Council were saddened to hear of the death of Ann Lewis OBE. Ann has made a great contribution to the leadership of the profession of pharmacy as an active member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Council and then as the Society's secretary and registrar. Her dedication and commitment to pharmacy and pharmacy education was greatly appreciated  by all who knew her.

Nov 18
Pharmacy Schools Council response to HEFCE-HEE consultation on ensuring a sustainable supply of pharmacy graduates

​The Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) has responded to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Health Education England (HEE) joint consultation ‘Ensuring a sustainable supply of pharmacy graduates: Proposals for consultation. The PhSC response can be accessed by clicking here.

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