We note the recent announcement from the Home Secretary Theresa May suggesting that foreign graduates are forced to return home as soon as they graduate as opposed to finding employment in the UK.
With respect to the pharmacy profession and recent comments about the oversupply of pharmacists in the UK, we hope that this recommendation from the Home Secretary is not viewed as a viable and sustainable solution. We agree that it may provide a brief respite in the supply and demand curve if implemented but the root cause of the issue will still remain: that there is no overall control of the number of pharmacists entering the profession unlike health professions such as medicine and dentistry.
The pharmacy profession needs to encourage the brightest and the best to enter its ranks and the fact is that the brightest and the best may not be from the UK. If we value the pharmacy profession, standards and patient safety we should be creating an environment where an excessive oversupply is avoided and that adequate positions exist, which encourages healthy competition, reasonable financial remuneration and attractive career prospects for young talent.
Surely, we should also be encouraging foreign nationals with different experiences and expertise to cross-fertilise the UK pharmacy scene, so that we can learn from their differing healthcare systems and clinical practices.
Some may say that this environment is not achievable but the fact of the matter is that it did exist in the UK not so long ago and the profession allowed the environment to become unsustainable.
We need a control of pharmacy numbers before we implement “knee-jerk” reactions which can hurt the profession even more.
Professor of Pharmaceutical Innovation and pre-registration tutor
King’s College London