A national centralised system that employers will use to recruit preregistration pharmacists is being introduced in England from 2017.
All hospitals will be expected to recruit their preregistration trainees using the Oriel system, which replaces Pharmalife. Community pharmacy employers will also be able to use the centralised system.
Health Education England (HEE) — the body responsible for NHS workforce development and training — says the current Pharmalife system allows variations in selection criteria for preregistration places and in how students are recruited, both between employers and between different parts of the country. These differences mean that sometimes the best candidates miss out on vacancies, it says.
HEE argues that as the number of pharmacy schools increases, competition for training places will also intensify. “Not everyone will be able to secure preregistration training posts so the need to recruit fairly and robustly becomes even more essential,” it says.
Oriel will allow pharmacy students to apply for preregistration places and book interview slots, while employers will be able to send offers through the system, which will be compatible with tablets and mobile phones, says HEE.
“Applicants will not be limited to four preferences as they are under the present system,” says Stephen Parr, Oriel project manager at the HEE. “They will also no longer have to make multiple applications – they will complete one application form and be able to consider all of the prereg posts on the system.”
Vilma Gilis, president of the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, welcomes the move but says “it will be important that the system has a way of dealing with unsuccessful candidates”.
A spokesperson for Pharmacy Voice, an association of community pharmacy trade bodies that has been involved with developing the new system, says Oriel aims to standardise and address variations in outcomes for preregistration graduates. “It makes sense to open the scheme up for those community employers who might want to use it,” the spokesperson adds.
“Whether community pharmacy employers will opt in to the new system or not will probably be clearer once further details about how community employers can join are made available later this month.”