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Reforms to pharmacists' education and training - benefits for future pharmacists and our patients

Students training to become pharmacists at universities in Wales will benefit from extra time spent on clinical placement during their degrees.

The new plans, developed between Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) and the schools of pharmacy at Cardiff and Swansea universities, will see every pharmacy undergraduate given extra days of supervised placements in hospitals, GP practices, and community pharmacies across their four-year undergraduate programme.

The development has been agreed by Welsh Government’s Health Minister Eluned Morgan, and aims to ensure all pharmacists in the future will have the training and skills needed to take on new clinical roles as medicines experts.

From the next academic year, Welsh schools of pharmacy will be able to access funding to support this educational supervision. Additional funding will be aligned to the medical tariff for training student doctors and dentists in the NHS. Funding will also be available to help meet the costs of students’ travel and accommodation when on placements that will be provided in every health board in Wales.

The additional investment, which will rise to over £2.7 million per year by April 2025 and will ensure universities in Wales can meet new standards for initial education and training of pharmacists set by the General Pharmaceutical Council last year.  Importantly it means newly registered pharmacists will have the skills and expertise they need to meet patients’ and the NHS’s needs in the future, including the ability to prescribe medicines from the start of their career. Pharmacists that are able to prescribe, increases services and the care patients can receive in their local community.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Andrew Evans said:

“Pharmacists are experts in medicines, and they are playing an increasingly important role in the delivery of NHS services in our hospitals, community pharmacies and GP practices. Wales is at the forefront of creating new and exciting opportunities for pharmacists to use their clinical skills. These changes will help us achieve our aspirations for the profession and make a real difference for patients.

“These changes will compliment NHS Wales’ profession-leading pharmacist foundation programme and make the undergraduate programmes offered by the schools of pharmacy at Cardiff and Swansea universities, even more attractive to potential students.

This investment reinforces Wales is a great place to train, work and live for pharmacy professionals.”

Welcoming the decision, Professor Pushpinder Mangat, Executive Medical Director at Health Education and Improvement Wales, said:

“This key decision by the Minister to support our plans is great news for current and future pharmacy students in Wales. Increasing the number and quality of clinical placements will ensure we meet the reformed initial education and training standards for pharmacists and that we produce pharmacists with enhanced clinical skills and the ability to independently prescribe medicines after five years of training rather than the minimum of eight years it takes currently.

Historically pharmacy courses have been viewed as science rather than health degrees meaning they do not attract additional funding for clinical placements.  These changes bring the training of pharmacists in line with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.”

Further information regarding Pharmacy pre-registration and post registration education and training for the whole pharmacy workforce in Wales, can be found here;