More than 400 preregistration trainees switch placements each year

Exclusive: The Pharmaceutical Journal has identified an increase in the number of preregistration trainees transferring to a new training site during their preregistration year.

Pharmacy student

Rising numbers of trainees are switching to a new training site during their preregistration year, show figures obtained by The Pharmaceutical Journal.

Data from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show 412 preregistration trainees moved sites in the 2017 calendar year — an increase from 2016, when 389 trainees moved sites. Figures for 2018 were not yet available. 

The majority of transfers were made by trainees completing their placements in community pharmacy, with 316 switching in 2017, versus 278 in 2016. The exact motivations behind each transfer were not recorded.

In the 2016/2017 academic year, there were 3,097 preregistration trainees registered with the GPhC; in 2017/2018, there were 3,222.

Experts have said that transfers mid-training would inevitably cause disruption for the trainees.

The release of these data comes after the pass rate for the GPhC’s summer registration assessment fell to its lowest level in June 2019. This is since the regulator began running the exam in 2011.

In response, the regulator has launched an investigation into the lower-performing schools.

An analysis (see box) of 2,578 placement adverts on Oriel — the official site for allocating UK pharmacist preregistration training placements — also shows a lack of detailed information given by training providers

Box: Lack of information for pharmacy graduates

The Pharmaceutical Journal randomly reviewed 50 out of 2,578 adverts on Oriel and found:

  • None of the listings provided a detailed job description of the roles and responsibilities expected of trainees;
  • Only 4 listings provided specific details of their training programme including structure, time frames, type of training, how training is delivered and specific support on offer;
  • Only 2 listings included a named contact – both from Scotland;
  • All 50 listings included salary and sector.

Not one job listing was able to satisfy all three criteria of having a detailed job description, providing detailed information about their training programme and its structure, and a named contact for candidates to email or phone for more information.

Aamer Safdar, principal pharmacist lead for education and development at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and a GPhC council member, said there may be many reasons for the rising numbers of preregistration trainees transferring to a new site. 

“We also must consider the impact on community pharmacy, and the pressure they are under, where they may no longer be able to support a trainee if the tutor pharmacist has left,” he said.

“There would inevitably be some disruption to the trainees if they switch, as the GPhC requires a minimum of six months of training to be completed before this can be ‘banked’.”

Louise Baglole, head of learning and development at the National Pharmacy Association, which represents community pharmacists, also said that there are various reasons why some students decide to move training places: “It can be personal reasons such as a student not settling well in the area, or it may be due to a preregistration tutor leaving.”

Rhys David Llewellyn, public relations officer of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association said he was “surprised” by the figures.

“I think this is something we need to look at. It could be that the trainee has moved to stay with a tutor but [is now] in a different location. If that is the case then it’s not as negative as it might look.” 

A spokesperson for Health Education England, the government agency responsible for NHS workforce and development, refused to comment.

The Pharmaceutical Journal approached the GPhC for comment.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, November 2019, Vol 303, No 7931;303(7931):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20207243

You may also be interested in