Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) has launched a 12-month pilot to explore the value of protected development time for community pharmacy professionals.
The pilot, which will initially take on 30 community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, will look at three different models of protected development time to assess how well pharmacy professionals are supported in acquiring additional knowledge and skills for service provision.
In the first model, which is based around maintaining maximum flexibility, pharmacists will have up to 12 days in the 12-month period within which to organise their own development against a recognised framework, such as the Prescribing Competency Framework, which sets out requirements for safe prescribing.
In the second model, the 12 days of protected time will be supported by up to 6 days ‘in-practice’ support from a mentor or education superviser.
In an article on its website, HEIW says this second model would be suitable for professionals requiring some support on using a framework, for example anyone who wants to engage with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s foundation, advanced or consultant level portfolios for the first time.
In the third model, up to 15 days will be available for individuals to undertake a credit-bearing qualification, such as a minor ailment course, education and training module, or a research module. The statement from the HEIW says this would be suitable for pharmacists who are already planning to undertake a university or apprenticeship framework credit-breaking module.
A spokesperson for Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) said it was “very supportive” of the pilot and the opportunity for community pharmacy professionals to receive funding for backfill to release them from their usual roles and allow them to undertake professional development opportunities.
“This pilot provides parity to community pharmacy professionals with other primary care contractors and pharmacists working elsewhere within the NHS.
“CPW looks forward to working with HEIW and WG in this pilot and beyond.”
The pilot is being run in partnership with Welsh government and the Cardiff Unit for Research and Evaluation in Medical and Dental Education.
To be eligible, applicants must work a minimum of 375 hours per year and applications must be made by midnight on 30 June 2021.
The Pharmaceutical Journal’s 2020 salary survey revealed that just over half (51%) of pharmacist respondents said they were never given protected learning time. The issue was most pronounced in community pharmacy, with almost three quarters (72%) of the 456 community pharmacy respondents saying they were never able to set aside protected time for learning.