A more patient-focused integrated pharmacy degree could help meet the needs of the evolving healthcare landscape, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.
Responding to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s consultation on new education standards, which closed on 3 April 2019, the negotiating body for community pharmacy contractors in England said it “strongly” agreed that the GPhC should set integrated standards for the five years of education and training.
The PSNC said it recognised the benefit of integrating education with learning in practice to “help develop student pharmacists’ communication skills and confidence in undertaking clinical activities”.
But it added that the integrated programme must be “at least cost-neutral” to training providers, as a higher cost will be a “clear disincentive” for training providers to be involved.
It added that it is “vital” that training providers were communicated with so that informed decisions can be made to ensure that current preregistration pharmacist employers will continue to be involved.
The consultation response said: “Training providers may potentially experience a higher workload associated with the integrated programme … this will need to be considered, and a sustainable funding model introduced, to support all involved in the initial education and training of pharmacists.”
In other responses to the GPhC’s consultation, community pharmacy organisations have expressed concerns that training places in community pharmacy could be withdrawn if the sector is not fully involved in implementing plans to introduce a five-year integrated pharmacy degree.
In a joint response, the Company Chemists’ Association, the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies and the National Pharmacy Association said: “Placement providers need the fullest picture possible before an informed commitment can be made.
“Health Education England, NHS Education for Scotland and Health Education and Improvement Wales should not assume continued participation or will to provide placements in the absence of clear dialogue.”
In its response, the PSNC also pointed out that multiple pharmacy contractors may find it difficult to manage different arrangements and contracts with each school of pharmacy and said that more information was needed to explain the levels of responsibilities and accountabilities in relation to training providers and universities.
“The ‘need to have an agreement in place between different organisations’ implies that an agreement would be required with every school of pharmacy, which would be very burdensome for multiple pharmacy contractors,” it said.