Fall in uptake for funded mental health pharmacy training

Exclusive: Half of the places on the University of Bradford's ‘Specialist mental health pharmacist training pathway’ for 2024/2025 have been filled.
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A total of 36 out of 70 (51%) places have been filled on a Health Education England (HEE)-funded mental health training programme for pharmacists running in 2024/2025, the University of Bradford has confirmed.

This is a fall from the previous year, when the university told The Pharmaceutical Journal that 39 out of 70 (55%) places were filled for the 2023/2024 cohort.

The ‘Specialist mental health pharmacist training pathway’ at the University of Bradford was launched in March 2022 to provide advanced training to pharmacists working in adult community mental health teams.

Following the first intake of 50 pharmacists for the 2022/2023 cohort, HEE announced in February 2023 that the pathway would be funded for a further two years, with 70 places available each year.

Traditionally, mental health pharmacists have mainly worked in secondary care, but the ‘NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/2020 – 2023/2024‘, published in January 2019, set an ambition for 260 pharmacists to be employed in adult mental health community care settings by April 2024.

According to the University of Bradford’s registration page, the specialist training pathway aims to “empower pharmacists to safely deliver to the full scope of their professional capability and increase their competence in optimising medicines use for individuals with severe mental illness”. 

Commenting on the enrolment figures, a spokesperson for NHS England, which now includes HEE, told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “The numbers reflect the fact that pharmacy employers are still recruiting into these new roles. 

“For those that have, not all recruits require the training as some are already equipped with the necessary skills.”

The College of Mental Health Pharmacy (CMHP) works with the University of Bradford to accredit the training pathway.

Karen Shuker, president of the CMHP, told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “It is disappointing to see for the second year that the uptake of people undertaking this course is below the number of spaces available.”

She added that it was important that NHS England continued to provide funded training routes, such as the pathway at the University of Bradford, for mental health pharmacy training.

“NHS continuing professional development funding doesn’t include pharmacy teams, so there’s no protected money.

“If we don’t have access to training programmes funded by HEE, the only alternative is paid courses and people might find it difficult to access the appropriate funds,” Shuker said.

Diane Webb, assistant professor in pharmacy practice at the University of Bradford, said: “The University of Bradford programme lead and team welcomed cohort 3 students onto the training pathway at the end of March 2024 and we are ready for an inspirational year of learning.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and CMHP published a draft curriculum to support advanced practice for mental health pharmacy in February 2024. It sets out the knowledge and skills needed to support highly complex patients, populations and health and social care systems, as well as improve the provision of mental health treatment. A consultation on the curriculum ended in March 2024.

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Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2024, Vol 312, No 7984;312(7984)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.309123

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