£15.9m further investment in pharmacist and pharmacy technician development

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in England are set to benefit from a further investment of up to £15.9m over the next four years. NHS Enlgand has said that this investment will allow for the expansion of frontline pharmacy staff in primary and community care, to meet the needs of patients and local communities.

This Pharmacy Integration Programme funding will enhance registered pharmacists’ and pharmacy technicians’ skills, through a range of training and development opportunities.

The Pharmacy Integration Programme is part of a wider education reform for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. NHS England has said that this work is also underway to identify and map career pathways for pharmacy professionals as they work across sectors and increasingly within multi-professional integrated health and care teams.

HEE and NHSE/I will work in partnership to deliver the Pharmacy Integration Programme which includes:

  • Developing a formal portfolio recognition process to identify the existing skills, training and experience gained by pharmacists working in primary care, allowing them to work more flexibly and better support GP services. 
  • Training in independent prescribing for pharmacists working in general practice and community pharmacy. 
  • Developing course accreditation processes, to increase access to clinical training courses for pharmacy technicians in primary care.
  • Extending and expanding clinical examination skills training for community pharmacists.
  • Increasing access to educational, prescribing, and clinical supervisors for pharmacy professionals working and training across primary care and community sectors.

Alan Ryan, Director of National Transformational Programmes at HEE said:

“This important investment in post-registration clinical skills and support will make a big difference to the pharmacy workforce and career development in primary care. The new development programmes are part of a major reform of pharmacy education and training pathways, led by HEE, to respond to the changing nature of patient care and service delivery in the NHS.  New funded programmes will foster a range of skills and experiences to help pharmacists and pharmacy technicians thrive in multidisciplinary healthcare teams, and meet the demand for clinical care skills, prevention of ill-health and optimal outcomes from medicines in all NHS settings and at home.”

Richard Cattell, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHSE/I said:

“Pharmacist and pharmacy technician roles have evolved significantly in response to rapid changes in healthcare and pharmacy practice and there is a growing demand in the NHS for clinical, patient-facing, autonomous practitioners across all sectors.

“These changes will ensure that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are well positioned to be further integrated into wider healthcare delivery as part of multi-professional clinical teams in PCNs.

“This structured postgraduate development demonstrates our commitment to ensuring existing registered pharmacy professionals have access to the same opportunities for further clinical training including independent prescribing qualifications.

“It properly acknowledges the clinical skills and vast experience of community pharmacists, providing them with a structured route to higher levels of practice.”

The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Dr Keith Ridge commented on Twitter:

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) welcomes today’s announcement from Health Education England (HEE).

Commenting on the news, Chair of RPS in England Thorrun Govind said: “Access to training for independent prescribing is vital if pharmacists in England are to work routinely as part of multi-disciplinary teams across primary care to extend the provision of clinical services, especially in community pharmacy.

“To make this happen, services need to be put in place as soon as possible so that existing and future prescribers can use their qualifications to benefit patients. When new services are commissioned, the opportunities for pharmacist independent prescribers to improve patient care must always be considered and provided so patients see the right healthcare professional for their needs. 

“Pharmacy teams are already under significant pressure and must be supported with the right skill mix and sufficient staff to be able to adapt to their workload and deliver the care their local population requires.

“For those new to prescribing, protected learning time is essential to ensure they are able to take up training opportunities and without this, the pool of potential prescribers will be much reduced.

“RPS has been commissioned by HEE to develop a primary care credential which will recognise pharmacists working at an advanced practice level. We have already seen a growth in primary care consultant pharmacist posts and these initiatives will provide a pathway for pharmacists to develop into senior roles as well as equipping them with the clinical knowledge and skills needed to provide day to day clinical care.

“Access to high quality supervision is also key to success, so investment in this is very welcome. The capacity of designated prescribing practitioners is already a challenge, so any investment that can improve this situation is positive.

“This Pharmacy Integration Programme funding will provide a range of training and development opportunities for primary care, which we would also like to see apply to colleagues in secondary care settings to enhance their skills too. We hope that HEE and NHS England will work with RPS to achieve what’s needed to fully support the development of the whole pharmacy workforce.”

These changes – which started in 2021 – will ensure that pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, their teams and pharmacy services are better equipped to support wider healthcare delivery and provide even safer clinical care to patients.

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