The number of applications to study pharmacy across the UK has increased by more than a quarter within a year, The Pharmacist can reveal.

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) said the spike in interest was ‘great to see’, especially amid latest commitments within the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan to expand pharmacy training in England.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has published its latest data based on undergraduate applications from those wanting to start a programme in September and has shared statistics with The Pharmacist specifically related to pharmacy courses.

It said there were 32,850 pharmacy applications submitted before the 30 June deadline in 2023 and that this was up from 25,670 (28%) in 2022.

Significantly, further data showed the number of applications to pharmacy since before the pandemic, in 2019, have skyrocketed 75% – up from 18,730.

Responding to the news, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at CPE, said: ‘The increase in interest in pharmacy degrees is great to see.

‘We hope that this bodes well for the recent NHS workforce plan and its commitments towards expanding pharmacy training and increasing places at universities.’

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, published earlier this month after several delays, pledged to expand training places for pharmacists in England by 29% by 2028/29.

And the ambition is to increase training places for the profession by nearly 50% – to around 5,000 places per year – by 2031/32.

Meanwhile, the plan also announced that NHS England is set to work with the General Medical Council (GMC) to allow pharmacists and some other healthcare professionals to train as medics under a shortened medical degree programme.

Professor Claire Anderson, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society also said the organisation was ‘delighted to see the increase in student numbers applying to join an undergraduate pharmacy degree’.

‘The increase shows the growing interest and recognition of the vital, expanding and diverse roles pharmacists play across all healthcare settings for patient benefit,’ she told The Pharmacist.

Amid ongoing changes within the profession and the ‘ever-expanding clinical role’ for pharmacists, Professor Anderson added: ‘It really is an exciting time for students to be embarking on a pharmacy undergraduate degree.’

These figures are based on applications sent to UCAS by the 30 June deadline. Those applying after this deadline will be entered into the clearing process.