Applications for almost 3,000 pharmacist independent prescribing training places in England are now open for those employed in the community, including locums, for autumn.

The courses, funded by Health Education England (HEE), will be available from September 2022 to March 2023, with several university taking applications for multiple dates for cohort intakes.

Alongside those working in the community, pharmacists also eligible for the courses are:

  • General practice pharmacists, who are not enrolled on or eligible for the Primary Care Pharmacy Education Programme (PCPEP)
  • Pharmacists working to provide primary care services not employed in Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) roles
  • Health and justice pharmacists
  • Pharmacists enrolled on the PCPEP, who also meet the PCPEP criteria to enrol on an IP course
  • Pharmacists working in an integrated care board
  • Pharmacists working in an NHS hospital trust or mental health trust

HEE also said that a set number of places has been commissioned to each learner group, but said further details were not yet available when approached on how the places would be divided by The Pharmacist.

At minimum, eligible pharmacists will also need the support of an identified designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) and an appropriate practice-based learning environment in a prescribing setting that can offer appropriate clinical support, said HEE.

To find an appropriate DPP, HEE has suggested eligible pharmacists consider who they ‘might be able to approach locally’, such as through a GP, primary care network or primary care training hub.

They will also need evidence they meet the course provider eligibility criteria, as applicants will be subject to their chosen university’s enrolment processes; and commitment to use the skill within their area of competence and expertise for the delivery of NHS clinical services as they emerge.

Eligible pharmacists can apply through eligible universities – broken down into approved suppliers of the Pharmacy Integration Programme, approved supplies of PCPEP, and approved suppliers of the NHS managed sector for those working in hospital or mental health trusts.

Those in community pharmacy will not require a defined prescribing role or access to a prescribing budget to be available, as the funding is to ‘support workforce transformation’, added HEE.

Pharmacists on part-time or fixed-term contracts can also access the funding, if their organisation or employer agrees they can undertake the course.

Pharmacists in non-patient facing roles who want to apply will need evidence of demonstrating competence in their chosen area; a DPP in a patient-facing role with up-to-date patient-facing, clinical and diagnostic skills; and a patient-facing setting to complete the IP training.

This comes after GPhC agreed to allow pharmacists to begin IP training when they have ‘demonstrated readiness’, rather than having to first spend at least two years on the register.

However, the timescale for this change will not be announced until the GPhC has approved guidance for course providers, which is expected in autumn 2022 at the earlier.

All MPharm graduates will be IPs from 2026. In November 2021, HEE announced investment of up to £15.9m to support the expansion of frontline pharmacy professionals in primary care over the next four years. It also funded 327 independent prescribing places on courses in the first half of this year.

However, no funding will be made available to backfill trainees undertaking the qualification in England, or for their supervision, HEE confirmed last month.

And finding the time to train has been highlighted as an obstacle by those who have previously spoken to The Pharmacist.