Foundation training programme could replace preregistration year from the summer of 2021

As well as proposals for a foundation training year to replace the preregistration year, Health Education England and NHS England have announced an interim foundation training programme to support provisionally registered pharmacists whose training has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student at a desk

A year of foundation training could replace the pharmacist preregistration year across the UK from summer 2021, Health Education England (HEE) and NHS England have suggested.

An interim foundation training programme will be introduced in England from September 2020 to provide extra support for provisionally registered pharmacists, who will begin working without having passed the registration assessment that was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A letter from Alan Ryan, director of national transformational programmes at HEE, and Richard Catell, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England and Improvement, sent on 23 July 2020, says the interim foundation programme will aim to support provisionally registered pharmacists’ “transition to full GPhC registration and beyond”, and develop pharmacists’ “ability to achieve high quality outcomes for patients and improve patient safety”.

It will apply to all provisionally registered pharmacists providing NHS-funded care and services in England.

The letter continues: “The next phase of pharmacist education and reform, subject to further consideration by a broad range of stakeholders, and led by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), is to replace the current preregistration year with a one-year foundation programme.

“The programme will form the fifth year of a continuum of pharmacist initial education and training. The aim is to commence this approach from the summer of 2021.”

The letter describes the timetable as “demanding”.

It adds that the proposals are supported by the UK chief pharmaceutical officers’ group “with the proviso that implementation would need to take account of each country’s circumstances and subject to appropriate consultation”.

NHS England’s ‘Interim NHS people plan’, published in June 2019, announced that HEE and NHS England would “explore development” of a foundation programme by March 2020.

It is unclear how proposals to replace the current preregistration year with a foundation year would fit with GPhC plans for an overhaul of the MPharm degree.

In January 2019, the regulator introduced proposals to integrate workplace learning into the MPharm, including suggestions that non-academic learning could be spread throughout a five-year degree.

Mark Voce, director of education and standards for the GPhC, said: “We have reconvened a working group to inform the final set of revised initial education and training standards for pharmacists and to drive implementation of the standards.

“Once the standards are finalised, there will be a phased approach to implementation. The reforms will start in July 2021 for those beginning their fifth year of education and training as the current preregistration year develops into a foundation period.”

The letter from HEE and NHS England says more details on the foundation training programmes will be provided “shortly”. 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ July 2020, Vol 305, No 7939;305(7939):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20208212

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