New standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists introduced

The implementation of these standards will transform the education and training of pharmacists for a generation, so they are able to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public from their first day on the register, including through prescribing medicines.  

The standards set out the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional behaviours a student/trainee pharmacist must demonstrate to pass their initial education and training and to join the professional register. The standards also set out the requirements for organisations providing initial education and training. 

The new standards have been welcomed by the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers for Great Britain in a letter published today [PDF 104 KB].

They will introduce a number of important changes to make sure pharmacists are equipped for their future roles.  

These changes include:

  • introducing a new set of learning outcomes that cover the full five years of education and training, and which can link to their continued development after registration
  • incorporating the skills, knowledge and attributes for prescribing, to enable pharmacists to independently prescribe from the point of registration 
  • emphasising the application of science in clinical practice and including a greater focus on the key skills needed for current and future roles – including professional judgement, management of risk, and diagnostic and consultation skills
  • making the fifth year of initial education and training a foundation training year with strengthened supervision 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 deal with health inequalities

The GPhC has worked closely with key stakeholders, including employers, statutory education bodies, higher education institutions and professional bodies, as well as Governments, and the wider public, to develop these standards. 

The Advisory Group of stakeholders which advised the GPhC Council on the final standards will continue to work with the GPhC to facilitate and oversee the implementation of the standards. Work is underway to develop an implementation plan setting out how and when each of the changes will be introduced.    

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:

“Publishing these standards is a significant milestone in our work to transform pharmacists’ initial education and training. These changes will help to achieve ambitious strategies for pharmacy and health across the UK, by enabling newly-qualified pharmacists to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public.

“The pandemic has demonstrated the need for pharmacy professionals to be able to take on new roles within the healthcare team and to work flexibly in the full range of healthcare settings.  We therefore need to move ahead with the implementing these changes as quickly as possible.

“We are very grateful to all of the stakeholders involved for their collaboration and support in developing and finalising the standards. The standards will only be implemented successfully if this collaboration continues, and if the necessary resources, including funding, are in place. We look forward to working together with everyone to achieve the outcome we all want, for the benefit of patients and the public.”

 In a joint letter, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers for Great Britain said:

"Today's publication by the General Pharmaceutical Council of new initial education and training standards for pharmacists marks a fundamental and exciting shift towards clinical practice for pharmacists. It marks the biggest change in pharmacy education since the introduction of a four-year Master’s level degree in 1997, and before that the requirement for a university degree to become a pharmacist in 1970. 

“As the heads of profession across Great Britain, we wholeheartedly welcome these long anticipated and essential changes and we look forward to this being introduced UK wide shortly.”

Read the standards here.