Suggested Learning

Continuous education and training

For a community pharmacy, continuous education and training is essential. So what type of training is available? Richard Brown explains…



The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) considers continuing professional development to be a requirement of not only the registrants in the pharmacy, but the whole pharmacy team and evidence of this must be available on inspections.

Continuous education and training is essential to ensure the whole pharmacy team are able to provide the most up to date, accurate and relevant advice and care to all patients and the general public.

There are two main types of training available to pharmacies. These are:

·      Accredited training to enable the delivery of a service. For example, sexual health training to deliver emergency hormonal contraception or NVQ2 training to be able to dispense medicines.

·      Ongoing CPD. For example, planned learning when needing to launch a national pharmacy public health campaign and unplanned learning when in receipt of a script for a new inhaler device.


While LPCs, the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education and other bodies provide excellent face-to-face training, they are seeing fewer people attending events and these are often not suitable for unplanned learning topics.

Offsite training is challenging as pharmacy staff struggle to attend for various reasons. Several factors play a part, like not being able to drive or certain staff constraints limiting their ability to attend daytime or evening meetings.

The situation is only exacerbated as they also rely on those who do attend to feed back the information to the rest of the team. However, the NHS long-term plan places health promotion and self care advice firmly with community pharmacies and Healthy Living Pharmacies (HLPs) are instrumental in delivering this.

As a result, pharmacy team development is crucial for long-term sustainability. Access to online, informative training is now more important than ever.


Healthy Living Pharmacies

HLPs’ aim is to deliver a broad range of consistently high quality services through community pharmacies. The HLP framework promotes workforce development, appropriate premises and improved engagement.

This involves a skilled team that can proactively promote behaviour change with the primary goal of improving health and well-being. It also includes effective communication with the local community, health care professionals, social care and public health authorities.

The majority of community pharmacies are now registered as a HLP.  As part of this process, at least one team member is required to complete the Royal Society for Public Health Level 2 award in understanding health improvement and to become a health champion.


What is health champion training?

The health champion training qualification is recognised by the Department of Health and Social Care and focuses on four modules in the Royal Society for Public Health syllabus.

·      Understanding inequalities in health development and the current policies for addressing them.

·      How effective communication can support health messages.

·      Learn how to promote improvements in health and well-being in individuals.

·      Understanding the impact of change in improving an individual’s health and well-being.


Health champion training provides the necessary tools to help start conversations with people inside the pharmacy about any health issues.


Ongoing learning and development

Achieving a qualification is only the start of the learning journey. Continual ongoing training is vital to sustain the knowledge base and must include the whole pharmacy team.

Online training provides an accessible solution and allows teams to train at a time suitable for their needs, the needs of the business and their working patterns. Virtual Outcomes is one option that can meet this need.

The training covers the entire pharmacy team and not just pharmacists. Each 15-minute course covers the background of the topic, key focus areas and what it could look like in the pharmacy.

For example, the children’s oral health module to support the national public health campaign (National Smile Month) covers the background on why dental care is so important for children.

It also contains top tips on how to open discussions along with pictures and guidance on setting up the pharmacy to start conversations with parents and carers.  All courses come with resource links, allowing the team to access free leaflets, posters and patient materials, removing the need for every pharmacy to hunt the internet for materials.

New services are now being developed for community pharmacy to deliver, the most recent being the digital minor illness referral scheme (DMIRS).  This service will formalise referrals from NHS 111 and GP practices into community pharmacists to reduce pressure on the entire primary care network.

Pharmacists will finally be recognised for the important role they play on a day-to-day basis in responding to patients who visit their pharmacy. This will only be successful if pharmacists are confident in their abilities, have good working relationships with their local practices and understand the wider implications of the pressures faced in the NHS.  Up-skilling community pharmacists to deliver this over the next 12 to 18 months will be the key to the success of this initiative and the GPhC will want to see evidence of ongoing professional development to demonstrate competence.

Training packages are already being produced to talk the pharmacist through their role, to help the wider pharmacy team in responding to requests from patients and surgery teams to understand the types of patients who can be referred to pharmacy.

The NHS is under immense pressure and investing in training and development has never been more important. A well trained, motivated, high performing team will always survive in tough times and it imperative that pharmacies do not sacrifice training for short term goals.



Richard Brown is chief officer of Avon Local Pharmaceutical Committee and director of Virtual Outcomes.



Maica (iStock)


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