NHS England (NHSE) wants Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) funding that has recently been unlocked for designated prescribing practitioners (DPPs) ‘to support trainee pharmacists across sectors of practice’, a conference has heard.

Last week at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress (CPC) in London, a new opportunity to use ARRS funding for pharmacy training roles was announced.

The funding can be used to enable prescribers to train as DPPs, or it can be used to fund ‘sessional time’ for DPPs to support trainees, NHSE said.

‘The real opportunity that this gives… is that collaboration between sectors of practice,’ Nick Haddington, pharmacy dean for NHSE Workforce Training and Education South West, told CPC delegates on Friday.

The funding can be accessed by primary care networks (PCNs), which are generally formed of one or more general practices in a local area, although they can also include community pharmacies.

PCNs must apply to their integrated care system for the funding, with a business case for how they intend to use it.

And NHSE leaders at CPC suggested that applications to use the funding to support prescribing trainees outside of general practice – including in community pharmacy – would be particularly welcome.

‘What we particularly want to see is ICSs thinking about how that resource can be used to support trainee pharmacists across the sectors of practice,’ Mr Haddington said.

While he said that the additional resource was ‘not a kind of golden bullet that’s going to solve all of our problems’, Mr Haddington described it as ‘a new lever [and] a new opportunity’ to ‘get some additional resource within the ICS to create that supervisory capacity that we’re going to need for 2025/26’.

The move comes amid concerns around access to DPPs within community pharmacy.

Last week, the National Pharmacy Association warned community pharmacies who are not able to provide trainee pharmacists with a DPP for the foundation year 2025/2026 to withdraw their application to provide a placement.

The association said it had become 'increasingly apparent' that access to a DPP in community pharmacy was 'becoming very difficult'.

On Friday, the NPA said that its advice had ‘created some concerned reaction from all key stakeholders’, and it had met with ‘multiple key stakeholders’ to discuss the issues that needed addressing.

‘These included but not limited to locating the DPPs in our respective areas, supporting current independent prescribers (IPs) to become DPPs and ultimately, for those prescribers within GP surgeries and other settings recognising the benefit of supporting those pharmacists working within the community pharmacy sector,' it added in an update on its website.

‘The NPA will not rest until this issue is addressed and resolved, and we will continue to press on NHSE for this.'

In Friday’s CPC session, Mr Haddington told placement providers and those who had not yet signed up that it was not too late to put in informal arrangements for a multi-sector rotation with another placement site.

And Atif Shamim, NHSE pharmacy dean for London, suggested that placement providers struggling to find a DPP should contact their regional NHS leads for help finding someone to partner with.

And he suggested that GP surgeries previously not involved in pharmacist training might now come to the table with the additional funding.