Employers who wish to take on a pharmacist trainee in 2025/2026 will need to confirm that they can provide access to a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) by March 2024, an NHS England pharmacy dean has announced.
Speaking at The Pharmacy Show at the Birmingham NEC on 15 October 2023, Atif Shamim, pharmacy dean for London at NHS England, said employers will also be required to confirm that “they will have access to a prescribing learning setting” before training starts.
A slide presented during Shamim’s session, which provided a timeline for trainee recruitment in 2025/2026, showed that training sites must “agree that [they] will provide access to [a] DPP and prescribing learning environment” between January 2024 and March 2024.
However, Shamim added: “We’re not going to be asking you the name of the person or what that [prescribing] area is”.
The requirement comes as pharmacists have warned of a potential shortage of DPPs, owing to changes to the initial education and training standards of pharmacists (IETP) that will mean an increase in demand for DPPs from pharmacy trainees.
Under the reforms, which were announced in January 2021, pharmacists will undertake independent prescriber (IP) training as part of their pharmacy foundation year from 2025, meaning that all pharmacists who successfully pass the registration assessment will become IPs from 2026.
Nick Haddington, pharmacy dean for south west England at NHS England’s workforce, training and education directorate, also announced that DPPs would no longer be required to have three years’ experience in prescribing.
Also speaking on 15 October 2023 as part of the same session, he told delegates at The Pharmacy Show: “We won’t be aligning to the three-year experience as a prescriber, which was originally written in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society competency framework for IPs. Instead we’ll be using a qualitative description of the experience that is needed.”
He added that this was “designed to help provide access to DPPs who don’t necessarily have that three years under their belt but are appropriately knowledgeable, skilled and experienced to do that supervision”.
Haddington said the DPP could be the same person as the designated supervisor and could work either at the primary employment site or at another site, adding that each DPP could supervise multiple trainees.
Under NHS England’s changes to pharmacy trainee recruitment, employers will also not be able to select their own trainees, said Shamim. Applicants will instead be provided programmes based on their preference and rank following the selection process and will accept the applicants allocated to them.
“What we would expect is the that the employer accepts the applicant allocated to them. This is quite important because the power is in the hands of the trainee,” he said.
“The trainee chooses the place as opposed to the place choosing the trainee. That is obviously quite a big shift from how it used to be in the past.”
Applicants will take part in a multisector rotation, defined as a 13-week rotation into another sector of practice. This will become mandatory from 2026/2027 onwards, he added.
Shamim said: “If you think about all of the long-term ambitions of the NHS and the General Pharmaceutical Council, we’re looking to actually create a more agile sectorial aware workforce as opposed to pharmacists who only understand one sector.”
On 29 August 2023, NHS England announced in a statement that that it would launch fully funded training places for 1,000 community pharmacy staff to become educational supervisors for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from September 2023.