The Pharmaceutical Journal’s editorial ‘Cuts to pharmacy preregistration training are reckless — they must be reversed’ (21 January 2019) included a number of assertions and inaccuracies that Health Education England (HEE) would like to respond to. HEE has been reviewing the country-wide variation of salary support contributions for a number of professions, as part of a wider education funding reform programme.
HEE concluded that it will implement changes to ensure a consistent national approach, with rates that more accurately reflect the proportion of time spent training for each affected profession. No changes will be made until 2020–2021 to allow HEE sufficient time to work with employers, trainees and the affected professions to implement these changes. This is not an exercise in cutting costs and funds will be retained for training. HEE is committed to working with all stakeholders to look at how the funds can be invested to help address NHS staffing priorities set out in the ‘NHS Long Term Plan’; HEE will be inviting stakeholders to take part in the discussion through a series of events in early summer 2019.
The assertion by a chief pharmacist that the change would cost £70,000 per trust per year does not reflect the overall picture. For example, trusts in the South already receive 75% so will have no change in funding. Likewise, a number of trusts in the Midlands and East also receive only 75% towards salary support.
The 100% funding for GP surgeries to take preregistration pharmacists is not comparable or inequitable. This is an NHS England–HEE time-limited pilot to train preregistration pharmacists across settings, including primary care. HEE is moving to standardise funding across the regions for salary support from 2020–2021. As such, all salary support arrangements for NHS employers will be standardised from that time.
With a finite allocation from the Treasury and a significant workforce challenge across the NHS and care sector, we have a duty to the patient and taxpayer to reform historical patterns of funding. HEE will take a multi-professional, whole-system and evidence-based approach to future funding decisions. Working with NHS Improvement, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, HEE has established its reform programme to enable this.
HEE will be in a position to work to deliver the workforce needs of the future health and care system; this will include distributing funding into integrated care systems across traditional organisational boundaries and responding to the future shape of professions as they develop in response to new care models outlined in the ‘NHS Long-Term Plan’. HEE recognises the importance of the pharmacy profession in this and welcomes your support as it moves forward.
Calum Pallister, director of finance, Health Education England