A record number of pharmacy graduates in Wales have taken up preregistration placements for the year 2020/2021, the government has said.
Data published by Healthcare Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) on 2 January 2020 revealed a 60% increase in the number of preregistration pharmacists from 96 in 2019/2020 to 155 in 2020/2021.
The latest recruitment figures come after Wales launched its #TrainWorkLive campaign in April 2019, aimed at pharmacists and pharmacy graduates, to showcase the benefits of remaining in — or relocating to — Wales.
HEIW said the campaign had helped recruit more preregistration pharmacists, with 97% of the 160 places available through Oriel filled across health boards throughout Wales.
The overall fill rate for England and Wales was 65% in 2020/2021, the government said in a statement.
As part of the #TrainWorkLive campaign, the Welsh government committed to nearly doubling the number of preregistration places over the next four years, increasing from 120 places to 200 by August 2023.
To support this, a £3.6m increase in funding was planned for 2020/2021, followed by a further £1.3m, which would bring the total amount of extra funding for preregistration places to £4.9m by 2023/2024.
The HEIW also attributed the increased recruitment figures to attendance at university careers events across the UK. The events have focused on pharmacy students who are undecided on where to complete their preregistration training.
Margaret Allan, pharmacy dean at HEIW, said she was “delighted that undergraduate students across the UK have recognised the commitment in Wales to invest in preregistration pharmacist training”.
Allan said the extra funding “includes increasing numbers, but significantly will ensure a first-class, quality-assured training experience across the patient care pathway”.
She continued: “We want pharmacists to have the skills to provide the best patient care wherever they are seen and this programme will be the building blocks to meet the ambitions of ‘Pharmacy: Delivering a Healthier Wales’”.
Vaughan Gething, health minister for Wales, said that the increase in trainees was “great news and a very encouraging start to our efforts to train more pharmacists”.
“In Wales, pharmacists increasingly play an important role in providing advice and treatment in communities, GP practices and hospitals. This is a key part of our future vision for the NHS,” he said.
Suzanne Scott-Thomas, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Welsh Pharmacy Board, said the uptake is “unprecedented and is testament to the continued commitment to pharmacy, investment in training, and recognition of the important role of pharmacy professionals in multidisciplinary approaches to patient care in Wales”.
“Preregistration training in Wales is now focused on equipping trainees with the skills and competence to work as part of multidisciplinary teams, delivering high-quality pharmaceutical care to patients right across the care pathway,” Scott-Thomas added.