Community pharmacies taking part in Health Education England (HEE) funded placements will have to comply with the HEE Quality Framework when HEE recruitment platform Oriel becomes compulsory for HEE-funded placements from January 2024.

Speaking at The Pharmacy Show on Sunday, Helen Porter, pharmacy dean for London and Kent, Surrey and Sussex, said that Oriel will be the only route for community pharmacies wishing to take part in HEE-funded placements, and that employers will have to meet certain standards.

HEE will move to managing the training of up to 3,000 trainees, with the intention to assume sole responsibility for ‘the quality management of foundation training across the whole of England’, she explained.

She also said that HEE-funded placements would receive a standardised payment, which would remove the variation across England currently seen.

Ms Porter said the planned changes would give trainees the opportunity to take on cross-sector placements where they would be able to gain experience in different clinical skills.

At the same event, Leanne Lewis, HEE pharmacy Dean for Quality, said that in order to be eligible for placement funding from the clinical tariff, trainees would need to undertake clinical work within their placement rather than just shadowing or observing a pharmacist.

The clinical tariff, which fund clinical placements, was extended to include pharmacy students in September 2022.

Ms Lewis said the tariff was a ‘sea change for experiential learning in the pharmacy programme’ that would both provide learnings for training all pharmacy undergraduates as independent prescribers, as well as create the provision within the workforce to supervise those students.

Nick Haddington, pharmacy dean for the South West, said that the change ‘will be of enormous benefit to the learner’ as they would feel part of the team and have the opportunity to embed their clinical skills.

He also said that it would be beneficial to the pharmacies providing placements, because the students would be less burdensome as an integrated part of the team.

‘So actually, people will think it's great having students with us because they feel like part of a team, they're constantly doing things and we're also helping them to develop their skills,’ he said.

He said that HEE was working with universities to develop a framework around Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) which would describe what a healthcare professional student could do, and once demonstrated and signed off would enable a student to carry out activities with an appropriate and safe level of supervision.