The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) and the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) have warned that the voice of “independent pharmacists” has not been included in revamped plans to develop a pharmacy degree apprenticeship.
The two unions have said they cannot support the current proposals without guarantees on the quality of training that the apprenticeships would provide, and reassurance that there will be no “material disadvantage” for apprentice-trained pharmacists compared with those entering the profession through the traditional route.
Initial proposals for pharmacy degree apprenticeships were put on hold in May 2019 to allow further engagement on any future plans across the pharmacy profession.
In a statement published on 25 October 2019, Skills for Health — which helps to develop healthcare apprenticeships — said a new proposal was being developed that would take the profession’s concerns into account.
The statement also said that the trailblazer group of pharmacy employers, which put together the initial proposal, was “considering the initial membership of the group as it is recognised that more NHS representation is required” and added that “steps are being taken to address this”.
But in a letter sent to John Rogers, chief executive of Skills for Health, on 25 November 2019, the PDA and GHP said they were “disappointed and concerned that, while business owners and NHS employer organisations are included, no attempt has yet been made to include the independent voice of pharmacists that we would bring to the development of a pharmacist apprenticeship”.
The letter also asks for confirmation on “whether our two organisations are to be invited to engage with this new proposal before the consultation period in 2020”.
In a statement published alongside the letter, the two bodies claimed that “excluding the voice of rank-and-file pharmacists from the process until the final consultation is what caused the significant negative response to the first proposal”.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the General Pharmaceutical Council, Health Education England and the National Pharmacy Association are among the organisations that are providing “input and advice” on the development of the relaunched apprenticeship proposals.