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 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.