Pharmacy Schools Council expresses concern over GPhC education proposals

Pharmacy education representatives have expressed concerns over proposed changes to how academic and clinical training are provided in pharmacy.

Students taking exam

“Appropriate funding” and enhanced quality assurance of preregistration providers is necessary for greater integration between academic study and practical preregistration experience for pharmacists in training is to be successful, the Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) has warned.

The PhSC, which represents the UK’s 30 schools of pharmacy, has expressed concerns following the publication of General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) proposals to develop a single set of standards for the five-year period of education and pre-registration training undertaken prior to the registration assessment. Currently, the GPhC produce separate standards for the MPharm degree and for the pre-registration year.

The GPhC said a greater focus on clinical and interpersonal skills is needed, which will be driven by much stronger integration between academic study and practical pre-registration experience.

The PhSC welcomed greater integration in principle, but said it was “concerned about the lack of detail [in the consultation] or any suggestion about how such a major change can be achieved”. The consultation document does not, it said, give any detail on how clinical training — which currently takes place within the pre-registration training year — will be “funded, managed and quality assured”. The GPhC said in the consultation document that it is “not the role of the regulator to say precisely how this can be achieved” and that their accreditation process will allow for “diversity and innovation in delivery”. 

The PhSC went on to say that greater integration could be undeliverable unless “appropriate funding for the extra levels of clinical experience” is provided, alongside “enhanced central quality assurance of placement providers”.

A spokesperson for the GPhC told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the regulatory body is “looking forward to engaging with the Pharmacy Schools Council and its members, and listening to their views during the consultation”. The consulation document, the spokesperson added, says that “universities, employers, health education and training organisations, and bodies responsible for funding must work together to achieve this” and that stakeholders should not feel constrained by earlier discussions about how such integration could be achieved and funded.

The GPhC also noted that the consultation document recognises that the proposed changes are “challenging and will involve some difficult decisions … but we believe it is the right time to encourage more innovative thinking.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, January 2019, Vol 302, No 7921;302(7921):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20205998

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