NHS England must provide a full list of organisations with available designated prescribing practitioners (DPPs) before placement information is released to students, the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has urged.

The association warned that without such a list outlining where to source DPPs, community pharmacy businesses could be ‘forced to offer fewer foundation placements than they would like to and have previously provided’.

‘NHS England has repeatedly assured us that there are sufficient DPPs within the system. However, we are hearing from pharmacies that they cannot find the DPPs that NHS England says are available,’ the CCA said.

Pharmacy training placements are required to offer students access to 90 hours of training with a DPP for the foundation year 2025/26 onwards, so that they can complete the prescribing requirements of their pre-registration training. All training placements should also be offered through the NHS's recruitment site ORIEL.

But the CCA raised concerns that community pharmacies would be unable to secure DPPs.

‘This will result in a significant reduction in the number of foundation pharmacist placements available within the community pharmacy sector,’ it added.

‘Consequently, a significant number of graduates leaving university next year will, unfortunately, struggle to find employment in their chosen career.’

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the CCA, added: ‘'NHS England must take control of the situation and provide a full list of all organisations with available DPPs. We want to avoid a situation where our members are unable to offer placements to pharmacy students graduating in 2025.

'This risk to pharmacy graduate placements can be avoided if swift and decisive action is taken by NHS England now.

‘Employers do not want to be forced to remove foundation placements from ORIEL, especially considering the existing workforce challenges and exciting opportunities that independent prescribing offers.’

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Independent Pharmacies Association (IPA) said the IPA shared the CCA's concerns around DPPs.

'It would be helpful for NHSE to play an active role in connecting employers with DPPs across the various systems', she said, adding: 'IPA also believes additional funding should be made available to enable employers to develop these educational partnerships, as has been made available to other sectors.'

Earlier this month, NHS England announced that Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) funding could be used to fund DPPs, including enabling prescribers to train as DPPs or funding ‘sessional time’ for DPPs to support trainees.

And it stressed that it particularly wanted this funding to be used ‘to support trainee pharmacists across sectors of practice’.

This followed a warning from the National Pharmacy Association that community pharmacies  unable to provide trainee pharmacists with a DPP for the foundation year 2025/2026 should withdraw their application to provide a placement.

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

NHS England was contacted for comment.