A development group of employers from the pharmacy sector met on 3rd October to discuss pharmacist apprenticeship proposals. This meeting followed a stakeholder engagement event held in July 2019 where outcomes of the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education’s consultation on a proposal to develop an apprenticeship were shared and further opinion was invited from sector representatives.
Acknowledging concerns raised by the pharmacy sector during the initial consultation on the proposed apprenticeship in May 2019, and a stakeholder engagement event on July 2019, the employer group agreed that it would develop a second proposal taking into account the issues and concerns that had been raised. The group agreed that more transparency in the process is needed and further engagement through a longer consultation period is required.
The employer group have said that they will work in conjunction with universities, professional bodies, arms-length bodies and the pharmacy regulator, actively seeking their advice and input to guide the development of the standard. The group will be considering the initial membership of the group as it is recognised that more NHS representation is required.
The group will consider the financial viability of the apprenticeship. The Institute will allocate a funding band as part of the approval process which will be a contribution to the overall funding, and the group is also researching other funding opportunities.
It is anticipated that the development will continue into 2020 and stakeholders will be invited to take part in a public consultation on the proposal and apprenticeship standard next year.
Employers represented on the development group are:
- Blackwell Medical Services
- Boots UK
- Lincolnshire Co-operative
- Ministry of Defence
- United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust
With input and advice from:
- De Montfort University
- General Pharmaceutical Council
- Health Education England
- Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education
- Liverpool John Moores University
- National Pharmacy Association
- Royal Pharmaceutical Society
- Skills for Health
- University of Nottingham
Group co-Chairs Claire Flavell, Strategic Lead, Lincolnshire Talent Academy, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Vanessa Kingsbury, Training Co-ordinator, Blackwell Medical Services said:
“We are aware of the challenges that this development has and we are committed to supporting employers through the process, ensuring the inclusion of professional bodies and the regulator.
“An integrated degree apprenticeship for pharmacists will provide choice for individuals wanting to train as a pharmacist in parallel to the traditional route in order to widen participation and access to the profession. With apprentices needing to undertake an MPharm degree as part of the on-programme training, it will ensure that the apprenticeship route is as academically robust as the existing route to registration.”
A spokesperson from the Pharmacist Defence Association commented:
“The PDA welcome the improved transparency at this stage and hope that if any proposal reaches a consultation stage, it will be widely publicised and provide a sufficient time period for the profession to respond.
“We will make further statements in due course.”
RPS Director for Education Gail Fleming said:
“The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is committed to supporting the education and development of pharmacists. We have sought the views of our Boards and members on pharmacist degree apprenticeships and have taken on board the experiences of other professional leadership bodies whose professions have progressed down this route. We are glad that the employer group has acknowledged the concerns raised by RPS on behalf of our members and has committed to increasing transparency.
“We believe that it is in the best interests of our members for RPS to actively contribute to discussions and debate in relation to pharmacist degree apprenticeships. Any proposal must have support from all sectors of practice and be aligned with parallel developments in pharmacy education, particularly the recent General Pharmaceutical Council consultation on the initial education and training standards for pharmacists. There are also serious risks if appropriate levels of funding are not secured.
“However an apprenticeship could provide opportunities for a fully integrated five-year degree with regulatory scrutiny of time in practice which does not exist in the current training model. It also may enable access into the profession for those who find the traditional route prohibitive dependent on their personal circumstances, whilst maintaining the integrity of degree entry.
“Our role is to ensure that that these important issues are all being considered and to push for wide engagement with the profession on this important topic.
“We continue to welcome views and questions from our members on pharmacist degree apprenticeships via firstname.lastname@example.org.”