The Pharmacy Schools Council welcomes consultation with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) on revising Initial Standards and Training of Pharmacists.
We note the successes in the modernisation and enhancement of pharmacy programmes since 2012 under the current standards, and that the learning outcomes proposed in the revised standards reflect the advances in pharmacy education developed and delivered by schools over the past seven years. Our schools already deliver pharmacy graduates who are taught using modern integrated and spiral curricula that enable the integration of scientific and professional knowledge and skills, particularly around medicines and their use, and support person-centred care, professionalism and collaboration. The Pharmacy Schools Council looks forward to continuing to work with the GPhC and other stakeholders to ensure that all graduates have the differentiated scientific and clinical knowledge and skills expected of pharmacists.
The GPhC consultation document includes the proposal to measure graduate outcomes over 5 years, with the standards for graduation and entry onto the GPhC register being contained within the same set of standards. We note that there are already UK examples of MPharm programmes which support co-terminus graduation and registration over 5 years, but currently all graduates can only enter the register through passing the registration exam set by the GPhC.
Representing the schools required to deliver the new standards, we are concerned about the lack of detail or any suggestion about how such a major change can be achieved. Currently the pre-registration year in England is funded via the pharmacist employers by NHS and Health Education England, with NHS Education for Scotland performing a similar role in Scotland, and the quality of the training environment and registration examination is managed by the GPhC.
In the consultation there is no proposal about how the clinical training, currently within the pre-registration training year now predominantly allocated centrally through ORIEL or NES, will be funded, managed and quality assured. While the Council welcomes exploring a greater partnership in registration and training, we are concerned that without appropriate funding for the extra levels of clinical experience and without enhanced central quality assurance of placement providers, there is a risk that the proposals will be undeliverable. There is a need to also look carefully at the practicalities and viability for the students and for the stakeholders engaged with any placement programme.
Whilst the GPhC recognises in the consultation that this aspect of their proposal is ‘challenging’, the Council’s opinion is that GPhC should not absolve itself of its current responsibilities to the public and patient safety with the statement that ‘it is not the role of the regulator to say precisely how this achieved’. The GPhC should be clear that it wishes to ensure the viability of pharmacy education in the UK. This requires more specific proposals from the GPhC on how the uplifted clinical and practical training is to be funded and quality assured and the role of the GPhC in these processes. Such information is a vital pre-requisite for constructive discussions before planning can occur to continue to improve the quality of pharmacy education and enhance the roles of pharmacists in our health systems and economy.
The Pharmacy Schools Council welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this consultation.
- 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 pharmacyschoolscouncil.ac.uk.
- For matters concerning this press release, or the activities of the PhSC more broadly, please contact Fahmida Yasmin, Communications Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call on 020 7419 5494.