The NHS online recruitment system Oriel is now open for pharmacy employers across community and general practice to advertise their training placements to pharmacist trainees.

For the first time, placements must provide trainees with experience in both a dispensing and a patient facing setting, with access to a designated prescribing practitioner.

During a recent webinar, NHS England (NHSE) pharmacy dean for London, Atif Shamim, shared how placement providers across settings could collaborate to create a multi-sector placement that fulfils these training requirements.

To list a pharmacist training placement on Oriel, the NHS’s recruitment platform, employers must confirm that the trainee will have access to:

  • A designated supervisor
  • A prescribing learning setting
  • And a designated prescribing practitioner

Speaking on a webinar hosted by the Primary Care Pharmacy Association last week, Mr Shamim said that NHSE would not require the names of those people at initial registration on Oriel, although it would need employers to provide them ‘over time’.

Instead, at the point of registration, training sites must confirm that these arrangements will be in place by the time the training starts in 2025.

Mr Shamim said this would give employers time to organise partnerships with other settings that would help them fulfil both the prescribing and dispensing training requirements.

He suggested that a ‘key way’ for a placement to offer both patient facing and dispensing learning environments would be to offer a multi-sector rotation, defined as a rotation of 13 weeks or longer in a different sector of practice.

This could consist of a placement within the ‘NHS managed sector’, such as an acute or mental health trust; within community pharmacy; or within a PCN, general practice or health and justice setting.

‘What that means is that [the trainee] not only gets a much more holistic training programme, but it also means they can very clearly evidence all of their learning outcomes,’ Mr Shamim said.

He added that multi-sector placements would also help the trainee comply with the GPhC requirement ‘for a pharmacist who has a much better understanding of the wider healthcare system, and not just one sector of practice’.

‘It also very clearly aligns with things like the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan which also requires a more kind of agile pharmacy workforce,’ he added.

In recognition of the fact that ‘this is going to be quite a big jump for a large number of employers who don't have multi sector rotations currently as part of their programme’, multi-sector placements will not be mandated for the 2025-26 training year, but they will become compulsory from 2026-27, Mr Shamim said.

Training sites within a multi-sector rotation ‘must be located within a reasonable geographic distance to the base site’, he added.

‘We don't specify what that is because obviously geographies and ways of going to places can change all over the country. What we would suggest is that where somewhere is particularly tricky to get to, that is actually emphasised within the programme so that trainees don't select a place which they then cannot physically get to,’ he said.

Placements cannot require a trainee to have a car, but providers should offer information about travel arrangements, such as availability or lack of transport links including public transport.

And he stressed that because a trainee will rank placements listed on Oriel and then be allocated a training site, ‘if any site has been given a trainee, it’s because they have actually specifically chosen that site as somewhere they would want to work in [in their] training year’.

He reiterated: ‘The scheme does not allow employers to choose their applicants, applicants chose the place, but they are only given a place that they themselves put on a ranking list. So therefore, if they come to you, it’s because they actually want to work in your environment’.

Meanwhile, trainees working less than full-time, or working towards interim learning outcomes who would not qualify as an independent prescriber ‘would still need to be supported’, noted Mr Shamim.

Pharmacist trainees will be employed by a lead employer, who should be identified within Oriel, and that employer would then be the contact for the training placement.

For the first time, general practice, PCN and health and justice settings are eligible to be the lead employer for a 2025-26 placement.

And lead employers across all settings will receive the same funding of £26,500 per trainee.

Pharmacist partner at a GP surgery, Graham Stretch, recently suggested to The Pharmacist that the funding could enable general practices to employ pharmacist trainees, taking the burden of being the lead employer from other settings such as hospitals, whilst still sharing the trainee workforce.

And he has shared how community pharmacies and pharmacists working in general practice can build strong relationships around multi-sector placements.

Employer registration for the 2025-26 foundation year opened last week and closes on 1 March, and it is now compulsory to use Oriel to recruit pharmacist trainees.

More information about the requirements for training places is available on the Health Education England (HEE) website.