The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has written to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IATE) to express concern “about the lack of communication” on proposals to develop a five-year pharmacist apprenticeship.
The proposals were submitted to the IATE by the Pharmacy Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group, an organisation representing employers across the pharmacy sector, and published on 4 April 2019.
In a letter sent on 16 April 2019, Gail Fleming, director of education and professional development at the RPS, said the proposals had raised “considerable concern” from the Society’s members on whether an apprenticeship could offer a level of education and training that is equivalent to the current MPharm degree and preregistration year. Fleming added that members had also asked how learners would be protected from potential exploitation by employers and how the public would perceive a pharmacist who had qualified by an apprenticeship route.
The timing of the proposals had also raised questions, Fleming wrote, given that the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is currently considering responses to its own proposals for an integrated five-year MPharm degree.
Fleming asked the IATE and the trailblazer group for “further details that will enable our members to better understand the deliberations that have taken place to date — this will allow the profession to take an informed view, rather than be reliant on speculation”.
“Without this level of transparency and detail, we are unable to engage in an informed debate with our membership.”
In the letter, Fleming also pointed out that the proposals stated that the professional leadership body had been consulted: a choice of words which had, she said, “been misunderstood by some organisations to mean that the RPS had commented or contributed to the development of the proposal”.
“We would like to confirm that this is not the case,” she added.