An additional £3m will be allocated to pharmacy training in Wales during 2022/2023, with a portion of the funding spent on growing “independent prescribing courses for the existing workforce”, the country’s health education body has said.
The extra funding is part of a wider pot of £260m from the Welsh government to increase training places for healthcare professionals across the NHS, including doctors and nurses, in an effort to support the pandemic response.
In a statement published on 5 December 2021, the Welsh government said the funding would result in a 15% increase in training places.
“The additional investment includes £18m for education and training programmes for healthcare professionals in Wales; £5m extra for medical training places, nearly £8m to support core GP training numbers and a net increase of nearly £3m for pharmacy training across Wales,” the statement said.
On 10 December 2021, a spokesperson for Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), which will be overseeing the training, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the funding will support “increased independent prescribing courses for the existing workforce,” as well as “increased access to advanced and extended practice education”.
HEIW also said the money would cover “a new preregistration pharmacy technician programme, starting in February 2022 [and] a new post-registration foundation pharmacist programme, starting in September 2022”.
In July 2020, Health Education England and NHS England announced that a foundation programme would replace the current preregistration year across the UK, with pharmacists expected to be qualified as independent prescribers at the point of registration by 2026.
The spokesperson for HEIW added: “We are delighted that Welsh government has approved the request for increased investment in the pharmacy workforce.
“Pharmacy education and training is going through a period of significant change to enable the workforce to maximise their skills and do more for patients at any point of care.”
Commenting on the additional funding, a spokesperson for Community Pharmacy Wales, which represents pharmacy owners in Wales on NHS matters, said: “[We are] pleased to welcome the additional funding for pharmacy training in 2022/2023 and the new training opportunities for community pharmacists and technicians.
In November 2021, the independent prescribing service in Wales was expanded to enable all health boards to commission additional pharmacies to provide the service, following a pilot phase.
Welsh health boards told The Pharmaceutical Journal later that month that they were planning to commission 40 additional pharmacies to provide the independent prescribing service during winter 2021/2022, in addition to the 22 pharmacies that had already been commissioned since the service’s expansion on 1 November 2021.
The push to grow pharmacy’s independent prescriber workforce follows the publication of the Welsh government’s plan, ‘Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales‘, in April 2019, which laid out plans to have an independent prescriber in each community pharmacy by 2030.
This strategy also set out an intermediate plan for 30% of community pharmacies to have an independent prescriber by 2022.