The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has called for pharmacist training and supervision to be resourced appropriately as the profession takes on more responsibility.

This follows comments made by a GP panellist at the recent Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) conference who suggested that training pharmacist prescribers was becoming a ‘burden’ on GPs tasked with supervising them.

And it comes as the former chief pharmaceutical officer for England and panellists at the same event questioned whether the current designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) training model was fit for purpose.

Speaking on a panel at the RPS conference last week, Dr Lawrence Brad, a GP in Poole Bay and Bournemouth primary care network suggested that training pharmacists as prescribers was ‘becoming a burden’ on supervisors in general practice.

While he said that GPs were able to supervise medical trainees within general practice, ‘when you’ve got a whole multidisciplinary team of people learning at different levels, it becomes really difficult’.

And he called for pharmacist prescriber trainees to be supported by the wider team who could ‘spread the load’.

‘I think in primary care it’s going to be really difficult to get this named person [to act as a DPP], but there will always be a champion within your practice or your PCN who’s going to be kind of a DPP, I guess,’ Dr Brad added.

Other panellists also called for the 1:1 DPP model to be reconsidered.

William Swain, University College London (UCL) lecturer and prescribing integration project manager at the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Foundation Trust, suggested there needed to be a clear idea of what ‘foundation prescribing practice’ looks like, to make it easier for potential DPPs to consider taking on the role.

In particular, he suggested that foundation level pharmacist prescribers could practice in a similar way to medical F1 trainees on hospital wards.

‘They are embedded in the MDT [multi-disciplinary team], they see the decision made as a team, and they can be the one that goes away and writes the prescription. But they're not working semi-autonomously on or autonomously delivering services on their own,’ Mr Swain said.

‘I think that's the model. If we can embed that into practice, we can start to reorientate people's mind to indirect supervision, where the DDP is facilitating the learning path to time, not chained to the trainee the whole time for 90 hours, I think, then we can really come up with a sustainable answer,’ he added.

The panellists also highlighted the value of pharmacists training in multiple setting – a model which already takes place in Wales and will be compulsory in England from 2026.

Responding to the panellists’ comments, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the RCGPs, told The Pharmacist that our pharmacist colleagues, both those working in general practice and those working in the wider community, do an excellent job for patients, and provide invaluable support for GPs against a backdrop of huge workload and workforce pressures’.

She added: ‘As more allied health professionals are introduced in general practice and wider primary care, and people undertaking these roles are given more responsibilities, the supervision and training responsibilities for GPs need to be considered and resourced accordingly.’