The government has announced that pharmacists could be able to retrain as doctors on fast-tracked courses, following the UK’s exit from the EU.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said in February 2020 that it was considering a “flexible” approach to medical training, which could mean that pharmacists would not have to complete the current standard of 5,500 hours of training over a minimum of five years to become a doctor — requirements which are set by the EU.
A statement from the DHSC said that “newly-designed courses could take into account existing qualifications, training and experience, making it easier and quicker for existing healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists or pharmacists to train as doctors”.
The plans were first hinted at by Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, in 2019, but very little detail was provided at the time. Currently, the government has still not revealed how the retraining might work.
After Stevens first raised the issue, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said such training developments could make recruiting pharmacists into primary care networks “even more of a challenge” and it called for a strategic approach to workforce planning to avoid adding to further pressures on frontline staff.