A funded training programme for pharmacists in England has been extended by a further two years, with the aim of better supporting people with complex mental illnesses in the community.
The 12-month ‘Specialist mental health pharmacist training pathway’ launched in 2021, funded by Health Education England (HEE) and delivered by the University of Bradford. The first cohort of 50 pharmacists is due to complete their training in March 2023.
After putting out a tender in October 2022 seeking providers to extend the training, HEE announced on 8 February 2023 that the pathway was being funded for a further two years, with the University of Bradford continuing as the training provider.
There will be 70 places available on the pathway each year, with applications now open to begin training in March 2023.
In its ‘NHS mental health implementation plan for 2019/2020–2023/2024‘, published in July 2019, NHS England committed to placing 260 specialist mental health pharmacists in community mental health teams by March 2024.
The pledge was part of its wider effort to support better integrated primary and community mental health care for adults and older adults with moderate to severe mental health conditions.
Diane Webb, associate professor at the University of Bradford and the project lead, said: “The University of Bradford is the only university to offer this kind of advanced training.
“Ultimately the training will ensure the workforce is ready for the new roles and provide excellent shared care with patients who have severe mental illness.”
Matthew Elswood, national specialty adviser for mental health pharmacy at NHS England, said: “This extended training offer providing ongoing support for specialist mental health pharmacists working in new roles is a very positive and welcome development.
“We have evaluated and improved the training to ensure our workforce has the best support available to meet the challenges of optimising the use of medicines for people with severe and enduring mental illness.”