The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is consulting on possible changes to the current requirements for pharmacists to train as independent prescribers. 

The eight-week consultation — open from 28 September until 23 November  is seeking views from pharmacists on suggested changes to enable more pharmacists to begin independent prescriber training sooner.   

The regulatory body is asking for views on the possible removal of the requirement for registered pharmacists to have at least two years of clinical practice experience before enrolling on an accredited independent prescribing course. 

It is also considering removing the requirement for pharmacists to have relevant experience in a specific clinical or therapeutic area. 

However, they proposed retaining the need for course participants to identify an area of clinical or therapeutic practice to focus on during the course. 

The GPhC hopes that the changes would help the pharmacy sector meet the increasing demand for pharmacist independent prescribers. 

This comes as a recently published Government-commissioned review concluded that the clinical skills of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians need to be upgraded to tackle overprescribing. 

Last year, the GPhC approved the new standards for the initial education and training (IET) of pharmacists, which will make prescribing skills an ‘integral part’ of the training programme. 

Commenting on the consultation, Duncan Rudkin, GPhC chief executive said: ‘Pharmacist independent prescribers are playing an increasingly important role in meeting the changing needs of patients and the health services that support them. 

‘We want to enable currently registered and newly-qualified pharmacists joining the register over the next few years to be able to begin their independent prescriber course as soon as they have acquired the relevant experience, rather than having to wait two years. 

‘We are also proposing to remove the requirement to have experience in a particular area of clinical practice, to enable pharmacists who have general experience of prescribing to enrol.  

‘We are proposing to retain the requirement for course participants to identify an area of clinical or therapeutic practice to focus on during the course, but they would not be restricted to that area of practice upon qualification, which gives them more flexibility in their future prescribing roles.’ 

Community Pharmacy Wales has previously urged the Welsh Government to ensure there is at least one independent prescriber in each pharmacy across the country by 2030, while RPS Wales called for further integration of pharmacist independent prescribing into ‘routine NHS care’. 

Meanwhile, in August last year, the Scottish Government announced it would launch a formal career pathway designed to boost independent prescriber numbers in community pharmacy