Pharmacy schools have ‘concerns’ over new proposals to allow prospective pharmacists to train on the job rather than the traditional university route, The Pharmacist has learned.

The Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC), which represents pharmacy schools, chair Nigel Ratcliffe told The Pharmacist that there ‘is concern’ over the proposals as pharmacy education must continue to include 'the broad and ever-expanding differential skills of pharmacists’.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IATE) published a formal proposal earlier this month (4 April) to introduce a five-year pharmacy apprenticeship scheme.

The proposal was brought to IATE by a ‘trailblazer group’, an employer-led group made up of Boots, LloydsPharmacy and Well in addition to some as some as-yet unnamed NHS Trusts, higher education institutes and a smaller pharmacy company.

Mr Ratcliffe also expressed worries over how apprenticeships could shape the pharmacy profession in the future.

He said: ‘Many pharmacists may choose to contribute to the discovery, development and delivery of medicines. How would apprenticeship serve to ensure these avenues and skills continue?

‘PhSC is always open to creative and innovative opportunities and opportunities that serve to create equality in being able to take such but there needs to be careful and constructive discussion and risk/benefit analysis of change before any implementation.

‘One thing is for sure; any change must be driven by benefit to health care delivery and no other objective.’

Well’s clinical and professional learning and development manager Jessica Hall defended the proposals, which are still in their very early stages and may not come into fruition.

She told The Pharmacist: ‘There has been a decline in university applications in recent years, and with apprenticeships having been successful in other professions, we believe it’s important to research and examine this potential route.’