Number of pharmacy foundation training places on Oriel increases by 1,000 on previous year

Exclusive: More than 4,000 training places are available for the 2025/2026 training year, compared with just over 3,000 places for the 2024/2025 training year.
young pharmacist on computer with older pharmacist reaching for medicine on shelf in background

The number of pharmacy foundation training places available on the National Recruitment Scheme (Oriel) for 2025/2026 has increased by more than 1,000 on the previous year, despite a requirement for all training sites to provide a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) from summer 2025.

Latest data from Oriel, published on 17 June 2024, show that there are currently 4,102 foundation pharmacy programmes available across England, Wales and Scotland.

In a presentation given at the the the Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA) London and South East Symposium — held in central London on 12 June 2024 — Graham Stretch, president of the PCPA, presented a slide with data from NHS England Workforce, Training and Education, which showed that there were 3,089 pharmacy training programmes offered for the 2024/2025 foundation year.

All pharmacist foundation training places had to be offered via the Oriel system for the first time this year.

Following changes to pharmacy training, which mean all newly registered pharmacists will qualify as independent prescribers from September 2026, NHS England said that all employers looking to recruit a foundation trainee pharmacist for the 2025/2026 foundation year would have to confirm that they can provide access to a DPP by March 2024.

The DPPs are required to supervise and assess trainee prescribers during their foundation placement.

Concerns have been expressed around access to DPPs, particularly in community pharmacy. In a statement published in May 2024, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) warned that unless training sites already had a DPP in place, the likelihood of having one for the start of the 2025/2026 foundation year was “slim“.

The NPA encouraged its members to “re-consider your expression of interest and consider withdrawing from the Oriel scheme altogether“ if they felt that they would not be able to source a DPP, to avoid unintended adverse consequences for prospective students who may need to find another placement at short notice.

Commenting on the training programme numbers, Danny Bartlett, lead pharmacist at Horsham Central Primary Care Network, described the increase in the number of training places as “a positive sign”.

“I’m really happy with the numbers. I didn’t know what to expect because of the DPP issue; I did think this would spook a lot of places, so I am pleasantly surprised,” he said.

Stretch said: “The numbers are encouraging. I certainly wouldn’t say we need to be worried at this stage.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2024, Vol 312, No 7986;312(7986)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.320908

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