The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has warned the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) that it will not achieve closer integration between academic study and practical learning without substantial funding.
Gail Fleming, the RPS’s director of education, said the regulator risked “the future supply of the pharmacy workforce” if it pressed ahead with its plans as set out in its initial education and training standards for pharmacists, the consultation of which closed on Wednesday.
The proposals put out for consultation included one set of standards and learning outcomes covering the full period of education and training marked by “closer integration between academic study and practical experience” and an improvement in “experiential” and “inter-professional learning.”
“We welcome the GPhC’s ambition to see closer integration of academic study and learning in practice. However, meeting this ambition will require considerable investment and infrastructure,” Fleming said.
“If these proposals are implemented prior to additional funding being secured, the potential disruption could pose a risk to the future supply of the pharmacy workforce.
“This comes just when pharmacists are playing an increasing role across the NHS to support better outcomes for patients. Changes to education and training must have patient safety at their core. This is essential to ensure future pharmacists provide the best possible patient care.”
The GPhC also sought feedback on focusing learning outcomes on the development of clinical and communication skills, getting schools of pharmacy, employers and commissioners to work together to integrate yearly learning in practice into accredited programmes and introducing a more “rigorous” approach to learning.
Fleming added: “Pharmacists must also have the opportunity to develop throughout their careers, building on their initial education and training through to foundation level practice and beyond to create a safe, capable and adaptable workforce.
“This should be supported by a national approach to coordinating learning in practice placements so that employers can attract students from around the country.
“With a current 20% failure rate at registration, more transparency is needed so that students are able to see what outcomes are likely from a course, and can make an informed choice about where they choose to study.”
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