Two pharmacists reviewing a drug from their shelves

Major reforms planned as new pharmacist training standards approved

Both patients and future pharmacists are set to benefit from major reforms to the standards for initial education and training, being introduced by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) Council.

The newly-approved standards will transform the education and training of pharmacists, putting them in a position to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public from their first day as a registered pharmacist.

The standards set out the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional behaviours a student or trainee pharmacist must demonstrate in order to pass their initial education and training and join the professional register.

They also set out requirements for organisations providing initial education and training.

With the end goal of producing must more adaptable pharmacist professionals, the new standards set by the GPhC Council will ensure newly-registered pharmacists are confident and capable of operating in multi-professional teams across a variety of healthcare settings, ensuring they can meet diverse and changing patient needs.

The standards introduce a number of important changes to ensure pharmacists are equipped for their future roles.  These changes include:

  • incorporating the skills, knowledge and attributes for prescribing, to enable pharmacists to independently prescribe from the point of registration
  • introducing of a new set of learning outcomes that will be used to assess the full five years of education and training, and which can link to a continuum of development into post-registration
  • emphasising the application of science in clinical practice and including a greater focus on key skills needed for current and future roles, including professional judgement, management of risk, diagnostic and consultation skills (including for remote consultations)
  • making the fifth year of initial education and training a foundation training year with strengthened supervision and support and collaborative working between higher education institutions, statutory education bodies and employers
  • having a greater emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion to combat discrimination and address health inequalities

The GPhC will now work with the Advisory Group, and directly with the statutory education bodies, higher education institutions, the NHS in each country of Great Britain, and other employers, to develop a transition plan for implementing the standards in stages over the coming years.

GPhC Chair Nigel Clarke said: “These once-in-a-generation reforms will enable future pharmacists to take on new and extended clinical roles and meet the needs of the public and the NHS.

“In the future, pharmacists will be able to independently prescribe from when they join the register, with appropriate support.

“Universities, employers and statutory education bodies will also be working together in new ways to give student pharmacists more clinical experience and provide enhanced support and quality assurance across all five years of education and training. 

“We would like to thank all of the key stakeholders involved for their help and support to get us to this point, and we will continue to work very closely with them to implement these significant changes.

“We know implementing these reforms won’t be easy, but successfully delivering these reforms together will bring long-term benefits for the health service and patients and will help to meet the ambitions of governments and the NHS in each country across the UK. “

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