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Initial education and training standards for pharmacists

17 January 2019

You will have seen that last week, the Prime Minister launched the NHS Long Term Plan in England. This document, put together by NHS England and NHS Improvement following a consultation with the sector, provides a vision for the NHS in England over the coming decade. It emphasises clear role for pharmacy professionals as part of NHS multi-disciplinary teams. The Scottish and Welsh Governments have also previously underlined the importance of strengthening the role of the pharmacy team through their national strategies, including ‘Achieving excellence in pharmaceutical care’, and ‘A healthier Wales’ respectively.

Revising the standards of initial education and training for pharmacists

The role of pharmacists continues to evolve at pace in response to changes in the sector and in pharmacy practice. Every day we see the vital role that pharmacies play in delivering care and in helping people to maintain and improve their health and wellbeing. As it is for other healthcare professionals, the pharmacist’s role is a flexible one and varies between settings and sectors. Whatever the circumstances, pharmacists are experts in medicines. The role’s flexibility means that pharmacists can work in registered pharmacies; in primary, secondary and tertiary care; in nonhealthcare settings; or in combinations of these.

Importantly therefore, initial education and training also needs to evolve to reflect these changes so that pharmacists are equipped with the skills they need to develop new services. The standards of initial education and training we set for pharmacists are vital in making sure that pharmacists are appropriately prepared to deliver pharmacy services and improve them. The initial education and training of pharmacists must give them the necessary knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to successfully take on their roles and provide safe and effective care for the people using their services.

On 9 January, we launched a landmark consultation to modernise the initial education and training of pharmacists. Our proposals seek to give pharmacists the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours they will need to be prepared for future practice.

We recognise that our proposals may present a number of challenges for course providers, employers, commissioners and students, and may involve some difficult decisions. But we also believe it is the right time for us all to think innovatively about how education and training needs to change so that the pharmacists of the future are fully equipped for the roles they will need to play.