An additional 165 places on pharmacist independent prescriber (IP) courses are being made available for the first quarter of 2022, the Scottish government has said.
In its ‘Health and social care: national workforce strategy‘, published on 11 March 2022, the government announced that “a further 165 places [are] to be offered in the first 3 months of 2022” under the ‘National Clinical Skills for Pharmacists’ programme, alongside the 240 independent training places that were due to have been provided by the end of 2021.
In August 2020, the Scottish government introduced its ‘National foundation programme and independent prescriber (IP) career pathway‘ for community pharmacists, which pledged to increase the number of pharmacist IPs.
The plans states that any pharmacist who completed the NHS Education for Scotland pharmacy foundation training programme would be able to access IP training.
This pathway was launched in the wake of the creation of ‘NHS Pharmacy First Plus’, announced in August 2020, an IP-led extension of the Pharmacy First minor ailments scheme, which sees pharmacists treat patients with common clinical conditions — including allergies and eye infections — who might otherwise have needed referral to another healthcare provider.
By 2026, all UK pharmacy graduates will be independent prescriber-trained at the point of registration, a development that forms part of sweeping changes to the initial education and training of pharmacists, which were introduced by the General Pharmaceutical Council in summer 2021.
Implementation of the IP training will be determined by individual governments.
The Scottish government announced in August 2020 that it ultimately plans to have a prescribing pharmacist in every community pharmacy.
In December 2021, the Welsh government revealed it had allocated £3m to pharmacy training in 2022/2023, with part of this fund set aside for increased IP courses for the existing workforce.
This forms part of the Welsh government-commissioned vision ‘Pharmacy: delivering a healthier Wales‘, published in April 2019, which sets out plans for every patient to access an IP in every community pharmacy in Wales by 2030.
Similarly, in January 2022, Health Education England announced the creation of 327 fully-funded places on pharmacist independent prescriber courses, with training due to begin in March 2022.