The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme: from the inside

With applications for the 2018 Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme closing on 9 April, pharmacists in the UK are encouraged to consider this unique opportunity to expand their professional skills

Group shot of the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s (CPhO) Clinical Fellow Scheme

The secretary of state for health and social care, Jeremy Hunt, recently highlighted clinical leadership as an important element to the success of hospital trusts. He added that it is increasingly recognised that clinical leadership relates to improved patient outcomes across the NHS.

Through the nature of their role, pharmacists work closely with other healthcare professionals, and are therefore encouraged to pursue involvement in clinical leadership in order to further promote integration and collaboration within and between professionals and organisations.

About the scheme

The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s (CPhO) Clinical Fellow Scheme provides an opportunity for pharmacists in practice to take a step back and evaluate their career, to take stock of current experience and consider how they would like to move forward. There is freedom and opportunity to develop in various ways towards clinical leadership, as well as personally defined career goals.

The scheme is sponsored by Keith Ridge, CPhO for England, and provides the opportunity for pharmacists to spend a year working within a UK national health organisation. Facilitated by the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM), the fellows receive mentorship from the most senior leaders of the NHS and national healthcare-related organisations, and work alongside colleagues from both the chief medical and dental officers’ clinical fellow schemes. Within their host organisations, fellows lead on projects that contribute to national healthcare priorities around patient safety, medicines optimisation, transfer of care, digitisation and pharmacy workforce training.

“The focus on medicines and the pharmacy profession is increasing, and in order to really make a difference to patients and help them to get the best possible outcomes from their medicines, we need high-quality leadership. The opportunities for pharmacists to step up and grasp those opportunities has never been greater, and this is why I have established the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme to identify and develop the future leaders of our profession,” says Ridge.

Each of the clinical fellows contribute to national projects across the breadth of the NHS. The work provides opportunities to develop skills in research, project management, policy writing, stakeholder engagement, networking and communication at all levels. The projects vary widely in terms of scale and the level of contribution expected; and there is a large amount of freedom to shape projects. 

Throughout the year, there is opportunity to interact with a wide range of senior decision makers and policymakers, with huge scope for collaboration with fellows from other disciplines, other national bodies, and other senior individuals.

Applications are encouraged from all pharmacists with four years’ experience, regardless of the sector they currently work in. Individuals are able to shape their fellowship in ways that benefit them — potentially even shaping healthcare in the future.

Organisations involved

Since its establishment in 2015, with one clinical fellow at NHS England, the number of national healthcare organisations involved in the CPhO Clinical Fellow Scheme has grown to six organisations hosting six fellows in 2016 and nine fellows in the 2017 intake. The expansion over the past three years is owing to the success of the scheme and, in particular, the high regard in which it is held by the host organisations and others within the NHS. Further expansion is set for the 2018 cohort to include the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, General Pharmaceutical Council and Specialist Pharmacy Service.

The 2017 fellows and their host organisations were:

Danielle Stacey — NHS England

NHS England sets the priorities and direction of the NHS in England, and encourages and informs the national debate to improve health and care. NHS England’s strategic vision is set out in the ‘Five year forward view’ and ‘Next steps on the five year forward view’.

Emma McClay — National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidance, standards and information to help health, public health and social care professionals deliver the best possible care, based on the best available evidence. NICE takes into account the views of everyone affected by its work and, as such, works closely with stakeholders including patients, carers and the public, as well as health and social care professionals, NHS organisations, industry and local government.

Tahmina Rokib — NHS Digital

Working with partners across the health and social care system, NHS Digital has an essential role in enabling and supporting the use of technology, data and information to transform delivery of health and social care services.

Khola Khan — NHS Improvement

NHS Improvement is responsible for overseeing foundation trusts and NHS trusts, as well as independent providers of NHS-funded care. NHS Improvement offers the support providers need to deliver consistently safe, high-quality, compassionate care to patients within financially sustainable local health systems. This is achieved by holding providers to account (and where necessary, intervening). It helps the NHS overcome its short-term challenges to secure its future.

Cherise Gyimah — Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission is the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England. This includes the treatment, care and support provided by hospitals, GP practices, dental practices, ambulance services, care homes and home-care agencies. It also monitors and inspects services to see whether they are safe, effective, caring, responsive and well led. With its independent voice and unique insight, it publishes regular inspection reports and reviews on major quality issues in the interests of people who rely and depend on access to good, safe care. Cherise is part of the Medicines Optimisation Team in the Primary Medical Services (PMS) and Integrated Care Directorate. The Medicines Optimisation Team is a group of more than 40 registrants who support inspection activity across all the directorates and provide specialist advice on medicines optimisation. They also provide training and updates for staff relating to areas of medicine risk.

Naveen Dosanjh — Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education

The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education is funded by Health Education England to provide continuing professional development opportunities to all pharmacy professionals providing NHS services in England, enabling them to reach their potential and maximise their contribution to improving person-centred care.

Stephen Doherty — Health Education England

Health Education England exists to support the delivery of excellent healthcare and health improvement to the patients and public of England by ensuring that the workforce of today and tomorrow has the right numbers, skills, values and behaviours, at the right time and in the right place.

Graeme Hood — Public Health England

Public Health England is an executive agency of the Department of Health. It exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities.

Justin Hayde-West — Bupa

Bupa is an international healthcare group; its purpose is helping people live longer, healthier and happier lives. Within the UK, Bupa provides health insurance and operates dental practices, health clinics, care homes, retirement villages and the Cromwell hospital.

For further insight, the CPhO clinical fellows have written blogs with The 
Pharmaceutical Journal about their year so far. 

The application process

The CPhO’s Clinical Fellow Scheme for 2018–2019 is seeking applicants in March 2018 to commence in posts in September 2018. The scheme is open to pharmacists aspiring to enter leadership positions from all sectors of pharmacy, with a minimum of four years’ experience.

As a guide, applicants should be working at ‘practitioner’ level for most competencies within the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Leadership Competency Framework, and it is desirable to also have some examples of working as an ‘experienced practitioner’ within the framework.

Pharmacists interested in applying should be self-motivated, adaptable, able to work autonomously and looking for a challenge. Applicants should have a strong interest in learning from others and a willingness to build wider networks within and outside of their organisation. An enthusiasm to step out of their comfort zone is key to making the most out of this unique opportunity.

Applications for the CPhO’s Clinical Fellow Scheme should be made through the FMLM website, where further information about the application process can also be found. The submission of a CV and an interview forms the basis of the application process.

For further information see the recruitment timeline below — please note that all dates are subject to change.

Application Timeline
6 March 2018Applications open     
19 March 2018‘What’s it all about?’ webinar from 18:30—19:30.  Registration link will be available on the FMLM website
9 April 2018 Applications close
Week commencing 9 April 2018Candidates notified of shortlisting outcome
26 April 2018Host evening (London)

Join the webinar to find out more

Join this year’s fellows for an interactive webinar from 18:30 on 19 March 2018
for an insight into what it is like to be a clinical fellow on the scheme. Interested applicants are encouraged to partake in this informal webinar where they will have the opportunity to discuss the scheme in further detail, ask questions or raise individual concerns with this year’s fellows. A link to join the webinar, along with other relevant links to the scheme, will be available through the FMLM website. If you would like to submit your questions in advance, please email

For more information

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s Clinical Fellow Scheme — What’s it all about?

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Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2018, Vol 300, No 7911;300(7911):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204350

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