GPhC publish new pharmacist education and training standards

 

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has published new initial education and training standards for pharmacists. This marks a shift towards ‘clinical’ practice for pharmacists.

 

It is the most significant change in pharmacy education in a generation.

 

The standards set out the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional behaviours a student or trainee pharmacist must demonstrate to pass their initial education and training and to join the professional register. The standards also set out the requirements for organisations providing initial education and training.

 

These changes include:

 

  • Introducing a new set of learning outcomes that cover the full five years of education and training, and which can link to their continued development after registration.
  • Incorporating the skills, knowledge and attributes for prescribing, to enable pharmacists to independently prescribe from the point of registration.
  • Emphasising the application of science in clinical practice and including a greater focus on the key skills needed for current and future roles – including professional judgement, management of risk, and diagnostic and consultation skills.
  • Making the fifth year of initial education and training a foundation training year with strengthened supervision support, and collaborative working between higher education institutions, statutory education bodies and employers.
  • Having a greater emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion to combat discrimination and deal with health inequalities.

 

The GPhC has said that the implementation of these standards will transform the education and training of pharmacists for a generation, so they are able to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public from their first day on the register, including through prescribing medicines.

 

The new standards have been welcomed by the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers for Great Britain: In an open letter they said:

 

“Today’s publication by the General Pharmaceutical Council of new initial education and training standards for pharmacists marks a fundamental and exciting shift towards clinical practice for pharmacists. It marks the biggest change in pharmacy education since the introduction of a four-year Master’s level degree in 1997, and before that the requirement for a university degree to become a pharmacist in 1970.

 

“As the heads of the profession across Great Britain, we wholeheartedly welcome these long-anticipated and essential changes and we look forward to this being introduced UK wide shortly.

 

“While still retaining sufficient scientific training to support rational and logical thinking, the changes to the standards will help to generate new cohorts of pharmacists with enhanced clinical skills, developed across an improved five-year continuum of training before registration, satisfying the ever-increasing demand for high-quality pharmacy professional skills from patients and the NHS.

 

“This new generation of pharmacists will be independent prescribers from their day of registration and so will be able to play a much bigger part in caring for patients with long term health conditions, in partnership with patients, carers and other members of the healthcare team.

 

“As heads of the profession, we are also committed to ensuring the existing pharmacist professional workforce can develop their skills as required so that they too can practice at an enhanced clinical level. We must also make sure that postgraduate professional development is fit for purpose and is aligned to these initial education and training reforms.

 

“We are very grateful to the General Pharmaceutical Council for leading this important work and we would encourage all partners, from Government to employers, universities to statutory education and professional bodies, to work closely together to implement the changes required. Organisations will need to commit further resources to ensure that the changes are implemented quickly and effectively and at the scale and urgent pace that is needed. This includes Governments and statutory education bodies making sure the necessary funds are in place immediately.

 

“Importantly, bringing current and future students with us along this journey will be critical, demonstrating to them the great career opportunities they will have through this exciting development.

 

“Thank you to all those pharmacy professionals working to support people during this very challenging pandemic and we hope this is a welcome piece of good news during difficult times.”

 

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:

 

“Publishing these standards is a significant milestone in our work to transform pharmacists’ initial education and training. These changes will help to achieve ambitious strategies for pharmacy and health across the UK, by enabling newly-qualified pharmacists to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public.

 

“The pandemic has demonstrated the need for pharmacy professionals to be able to take on new roles within the healthcare team and to work flexibly in the full range of healthcare settings.  We, therefore, need to move ahead with implementing these changes as quickly as possible.

 

“We are very grateful to all of the stakeholders involved for their collaboration and support in developing and finalising the standards. The standards will only be implemented successfully if this collaboration continues, and if the necessary resources, including funding, are in place. We look forward to working together with everyone to achieve the outcome we all want, for the benefit of patients and the public.”

 

Gail Fleming, RPS Director for Education and Professional Development, said:

 

“We welcome the publication of the new initial education and training standards from the GPhC, which marks a significant step forward for our profession. The pandemic has shone a light on the impact that pharmacists have, working across a range of sectors as key members of multi-professional teams. These new standards will enable pharmacists to better fulfil their roles as medicines experts and realise their potential as independent prescribers.

 

“We are delighted that the standards reflect the same domains used in post-registration, which supports a structured and seamless approach to the development of a pharmacist’s career, from initial education and training through to consultant level practice.

 

“We are pleased that the changes outlined in the standards include improvements relating to equality, diversity and fairness as well as a focus on quality, which will ensure that all trainees experience high-quality placements, particularly in the foundation year.

 

“It’s essential that the necessary additional funding is provided for these standards, so they can be implemented correctly. We look forward to continuing our work with the GPhC and other stakeholders to ensure that students can fully see how this will affect their learning over the coming years.”

 

 

GPhC announce major reforms to pharmacist education and training

 

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Council has approved new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists.

 

The GPhC has said that the implementation of these standards will transform the education and training of pharmacists, so they are able to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public from their first day on the register.

 

The standards set out the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional behaviours a student or trainee pharmacist must demonstrate to pass their initial education and training and to join the professional register. They also set out requirements for organisations providing initial education and training.

Key changes

 

The standards introduce a number of important changes to ensure pharmacists are equipped for their future roles.  These changes include:

 

  • Incorporating the skills, knowledge and attributes for prescribing, to enable pharmacists to independently prescribe from the point of registration.
  • Introducing a new set of learning outcomes that will be used to assess the full five years of education and training, and which can link to a continuum of development into post-registration.
  • Emphasising the application of science in clinical practice and including a greater focus on key skills needed for current and future roles, including professional judgement, management of risk, diagnostic and consultation skills (including for remote consultations).
  • Making the fifth year of initial education and training a foundation training year with strengthened supervision and support and collaborative working between higher education institutions, statutory education bodies and employers.
  • Having a greater emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion to combat discrimination and address health inequalities.

 

The GPhC has said that these standards have been developed through extensive consultation and engagement with all key stakeholders over the last few years, including a major public consultation.

 

At the December Council meeting, Council members considered the changes that had been made to the standards in response to the feedback received from stakeholders, including from the Advisory Group. The Advisory Group includes representatives from key organisations and stakeholder groups and is chaired by GPhC Council members Rose Marie Parr and Arun Midha. The role of the Advisory Group is to advise the GPhC and PSNI Councils on the standards and their implementation.

Implementing the standards

 

The GPhC will now work with the Advisory Group, and directly with the statutory education bodies, higher education institutions, the NHS in each country of Great Britain, and other employers, to develop a transition plan for implementing the standards in stages over the coming years.

 

The GPhC Council has agreed that the changes, including independent prescribing from the point of registration, will be introduced at the earliest possible opportunity, taking account of the knowledge and skills student and trainee pharmacists, will be developing and making sure the necessary assurances, governance and supervision are in place to appropriately manage patient safety.

GPhC Chair Nigel Clarke said:

 

“These once-in-a-generation reforms will enable future pharmacists to take on new and extended clinical roles and meet the needs of the public and the NHS. In the future, pharmacists will be able to independently prescribe from when they join the register, with appropriate support.

 

“Universities, employers and statutory education bodies will also be working together in new ways to give student pharmacists more clinical experience and provide enhanced support and quality assurance across all five years of education and training.

 

“We would like to thank all of the key stakeholders involved for their help and support to get us to this point, and we will continue to work very closely with them to implement these significant changes.  We know implementing these reforms won’t be easy, but successfully delivering these reforms together will bring long-term benefits for the health service and patients and will help to meet the ambitions of governments and the NHS in each country across the UK. “

 

Dr Keith Ridge CBE, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, said:

 

“This important and welcome decision by the GPhC is a landmark in the development of the pharmacy profession which will markedly change the future of the pharmacy practice and, most importantly, the care of patients.

 

“Pharmacists becoming independent prescribers at the point of registration is overdue and this alone will demand significant change across the entirety of pharmacist initial education and training, including much more ‘hands-on’ clinical training.

 

“There will be many challenges as we move through the next year or two, but I’m confident we can all work together to build a consensus on how to implement these changes for the benefit of patients.

 

“We’re also committed to ensuring the whole profession, including existing pharmacists, students and trainees, has opportunities to move forwards together, through ongoing funded training and recognition of existing skills and experience, to deliver even better careers for all.”

 

Gail Fleming, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Director for Education and Professional Development, said:

 

“We warmly welcome the new IET standards and the ambition for pharmacists in future to qualify as independent prescribers. This is a significant step forward for our profession which will enable pharmacists to better fulfil their roles as medicines experts. We’re delighted about the creation of common learning outcome domains across the GPhC standards and RPS post-registration curricula which will create a clear continuum of professional learning and development throughout a pharmacist’s career. We’re also pleased to see that an equality impact assessment has been carried out and look forward to that being published.

 

“Implementing the standards will require investment and we hope that additional funding will be made available to ensure the necessary additional experiential learning is provided.

 

“We look forward to working with the GPhC and other key stakeholders on the IET Advisory Group to ensure there is a robust transition plan so students and trainees can see how this will affect them over the next few years.”

 

 

Have you got a view on these changes? For example, do you think pharmacists should be permitted to become independent prescribers upon registration? 

 

 

 

RPS appoint new chair of Education and Standards Committee

 

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Education and Standards Committee has appointed a new Chair for 2021. Professor Andy Husband, Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Head of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Newcastle, will take on the role has been an existing member of the committee.

 

The Education and Standards Committee provides expert advice and makes recommendations to the RPS Education and Professional Development Directorate, reporting directly to the RPS Assembly.

 

Professor Husband said:

 

“I am delighted to have been appointed as the new Chair of the Education and Standards Committee at the RPS. It’s an exciting and dynamic time for pharmacy at all levels of the profession and I look forward to leading the committee to support the RPS in achieving their vision to support pharmacy education.”

 

Gail Fleming, Director for Education at RPS, said:

 

Congratulations to Andy on his appointment as the new Chair of the Education and Standards Committee. This is an exciting and important period in pharmacy education and we are delighted to have a new Chair with a passion for education as well as the wealth of experience and expertise that Andy brings. The committee will play an important role, working closely with RPS Boards and Assembly, in the delivery of the RPS strategy relating to the education and professional development of the existing and future workforce.”

 

 

GPhC say pharmacists should be able to independently prescribe upon registration

 

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Council has agreed on the overall direction of the review of the standards for initial education and training of pharmacists and the next steps to finalise and implement the standards.

 

At the November meeting, the Council reviewed the current draft of the standards.

 

Council members Rose Marie Parr and Arun Midha, who are jointly chairing the Advisory Group on the standards, gave an update on the feedback and key issues discussed at the group’s meeting earlier this month.  The Advisory Group includes representatives from a wide range of stakeholders, including universities, employers, student representatives and statutory education bodies.

 

Rose Marie and Arun also highlighted the areas where further drafting is taking place in response to the Advisory Group’s feedback.

 

The further work underway includes:

 

  • Reviewing some of the levels and headings in the learning outcomes to ensure these are right, with a particular focus on the progression from year four to five and then to post-registration.
  • Making sure the elements of the standards relating to independent prescribing are appropriately woven through the five years of education and training.
  • Setting out the respective roles and accountabilities of the different organisations in relation to the Foundation training year more clearly within the standards.

 

The GPhC is continuing to work closely with key stakeholders, including the Pharmacy Schools Council and the statutory national education bodies, to inform the final drafting. The Council noted the generous offers of assistance from stakeholders to help with this.

 

It was agreed at the meeting that the Council would consider the final draft of the standards at the December Council meeting, once this work has been completed.

 

Council members also agreed that the GPhC needs to work with the Advisory Group to develop a transition plan for how and when the standards would be implemented. There was clear support for the standards being implemented as part of an iterative process and that changes, including to support the aim that pharmacists can independently prescribe from the point of registration, should be implemented at the earliest possible opportunity.

 

Nigel Clarke, Chair of the GPhC, said:

 

“These new standards will transform the education and training of pharmacists, so they will be able to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public from their first day on the register.

 

“There is real momentum and support behind the standards from our Council and from the Advisory Group. We are working with pace and ambition to finalise the standards and working closely with everyone involved to develop a practical and realistic transition plan to implement them.

 

“We are very grateful for the hugely collaborative and collegiate approach that stakeholders have taken in working with us to finalise the standards. There is a real willingness to work together to make this happen, whilst recognising that there are still challenges to overcome.

 

“There was a clear steer from our Council that the standards should be implemented in a way that enables improvements to happen as soon as possible to meet the current and future needs of patients and the public.  This includes considering the earliest possible time when newly-registered pharmacists would be able to prescribe, taking account of the knowledge and skills they will be developing and the necessary assurances for patient safety.”

 

 

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PDA launch education hub for provisionally registered pharmacists

 

The Pharmacist Defence Association (PDA) has announced that they have launched a new education hub week with a programme of support for provisionally registered pharmacists.

 

The PDA programme will combine assessment practice questions, discussion forums, information, advice and guidance on a range of issues, that we know from our years of experience, many of you may face in your new role.

 

PDA Director, Paul Day said:

 

‘We know the PDA has a well-earned reputation for defending the interests of pharmacists if they find themselves in difficulty. However, those who know us appreciate that most of our work is about supporting pharmacists’ careers by campaigning for improvements that impact upon their work and helping them become better health practitioners. We have provided training and development to thousands of members as they have entered the profession, and the launch of the PDA Education Hub is the beginning of that aspect of our activity evolving to the next level’

 

Mark Koziol, PDA Chairman commented:

 

“We launched the PDA in 2003, because back then, whilst the employer organisations had considerable resources and support available to them in the event that they had a dispute with their pharmacists, individual employee and locum pharmacists would have to fend for themselves. Pharmacists were crying out for fairness and justice and our vision was to answer that call. Since that time, the PDA has grown rapidly, and today, with now more than 32,000 members, we routinely stand up for the rights of individual pharmacists, already securing more than £4,000,000 in compensation paid by employers to employees or locums who may have been treated harshly, unfairly or illegally.”

 

He goes on to say:

 

“The PDA defends the interests of pharmacists, we also ensure the individual pharmacist is heard and is helped to develop a professionally fulfilling pharmacist career. This is why we regularly talk to the government, routinely defend pharmacists through our professional indemnity operation, and more recently, we give members from all parts of society a voice through our newly established diversity networks.”

 

We have always been very proud to support pre-regs with free membership and to provide training so as to support the preparations for their exam. This year, with the unexpected impact of COVID-19 creating the ‘provisional registration’ programme, we are delighted to announce a fully interactive, virtual ‘prov reg’ support initiative, which has been designed to support all those new pharmacists who are preparing for their pre-reg exam in early 2021.”

 

The PDA has said that the programme is free to both PDA provisionally registered pharmacists and those pre-regs of 2020 who were not eligible for provisional registration.

 

 

GPhC announce new training requirements for pharmacy support staff

 

The Council of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has agreed on new education and training requirements and learning outcomes for all pharmacy support roles.

 

The Council decided to introduce the new requirements after considering the feedback received from consultation and engagement with the pharmacy sector, pharmacy support staff, pharmacy professionals, members of the public and education and training providers.

 

In response to the feedback received, the Council agreed that the GPhC should continue to set requirements for the education and training of pharmacy support staff and to accredit courses.  The requirements will also now cover all support staff who have roles in:

 

  • Dispensing and supply of medicines and medical devices.
  • Advising on the use of medicines and medical devices.
  • Assisting in the provision of pharmacy services.

 

The previous requirements only covered medicines counter assistants and dispensing assistants.

 

The requirements, including the learning outcomes, have also been updated to make sure that they reflect developments in pharmacy practice and the workforce since they were first introduced in 2005. This includes core skills that all pharmacy support staff need to achieve, including communication skills for patient-centred care.

 

Alongside the requirements, a set of updated criteria for use in the accreditation of courses has also been developed.

 

At the meeting, the Council agreed on some amendments to the requirements which will now be made before the final requirements are published.

 

In 2020, the GPhC will set and communicate the date from which any new courses will need to meet the revised criteria for accreditation.

 

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC said:

 

“Pharmacy support staff play a very important role in providing pharmacy services to patients and the public. All members of the pharmacy team must have the education and training they need to undertake their important roles safely and effectively.

 

“I want to thank everyone who took part in our consultations and engagement on our proposals. We have made significant changes to our original proposals based on their feedback and look forward to implementing our new approach.”