Reforms to pharmacy education have been delayed for “far too long” and progress must be made soon to deliver the type of pharmacists the health service needs, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer has warned.
Keith Ridge said progress towards a five-year integrated degree combining academic and clinical practice was “lagging behind” and was now urgently needed.
In a speech to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society annual conference in Birmingham on 14 September 2015, he said: “For too long the reforms have been blocked by some doubting, self-centred but powerful universities. This must absolutely stop now if we are to produce a sustainable supply of the type of clinical pharmacists the NHS wants and needs.”
Ridge said he was speaking urgently with colleagues to make progress on the reforms. However, even if the integrated degree was to happen right now, it would still take several years to produce the type of pharmacists the country needs, he added. Interim measures to strengthen preregistration placements and clinical training years are therefore needed “to ensure that the workforce is as good as it can be for the types of things [we need]”.
Rose Marie Parr, Scotland’s chief pharmaceutical officer, said Scotland would seek a more “seamless” education and training system. More of the training that is currently an “add-on” at postgraduate level — such as training for prescribing and common clinical conditions — will be built into the undergraduate programme.
Wales’s chief pharmaceutical officer, Roger Walker, said greater collaboration was needed between schools of pharmacy but also among independent contractors, the big multiples and hospitals to provide structured training and support.
“Financially there isn’t going to be additional resources to allow us to do this, and we have to be innovative and create it,” he said. “But there is a recognition that we need to be producing this new type of pharmacist, which really is going to address some of these needs.”
Walker told the conference that schools of pharmacy should reposition their postgraduate courses to include a “broader intermediate and community awareness”. “This is where we’re going to be treating and managing patients in the future,” said Walker.