Community pharmacies who are not able to provide trainee pharmacists with a designated prescribing practitioner (DPP) for the foundation year 2025/2026 should withdraw their application to provide a placement, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has warned.

NHS England has previously encouraged members to express an interest in providing a placement 'even if they did not have full details of locations, clinical supervisors and designated prescriber practitioners'.

But after 'scrutiny' by the NPA, the association said it had become 'increasingly apparent' that access to a DPP in community pharmacy was 'becoming very difficult'.

It added that if community pharmacies did not already have someone in place, 'the likelihood of having access to a DPP in time for the start of the foundation year 2025/2026 are slim'.

And if no DPP was in place in time for the academic year, 'this could lead to unintended adverse consequences to the prospective pharmacist student, who would need to find another placement at very short notice', the NPA warned.

Community pharmacies failing to provide a DPP could also risk their reputation as a prospective training site for students, it said in a statement.

It suggested that members that felt that they would not be able to source a DPP in time 'may wish to re-consider [their] expression of interest and consider withdrawing from the ORIEL scheme altogether'.

And it urged members to do so before the end of May, when their details would be revealed to prospective students and the pharmacies would therefore risk reputational damage if they were not able to fulfil their offer of a training placement with a DPP.

Helga Mangion, policy manager for the NPA, told The Pharmacist that pharmacies were finding it 'very difficult' to find a DPP for their students.

And she said the NPA was having 'numerous meetings and conversations with NHS England to seek a solution', whilst also calling for 'a task and finish group with all key stakeholders to address the current issues and find solutions'.

For the foundation year 2025/26, all pharmacy training placements should be offered through the NHS's recruitment site ORIEL, and must provide students with a DPP in order for them to fulfil prescribing training requirements.

Following concerns raised by the community pharmacy sector around the availability of DPPs in community pharmacy, as well as the disparity between the numbers of community, hospital and general practice trainees making reciprocal training arrangements difficult, the training grant paid to community pharmacies was increased to £26,500.

Pharmacies can use the grant to pay a placement fee to another training site where reciprocal training relationships are not in place, enabling trainees to secure access to DPPs, NHS England said at the time.

Following this announcement, the president of the Primary Care Pharmacy Association (PCPA) advised community pharmacies to begin building relationships with local prescribers, including those in general practice, to support prescribing training and multi-sector placements for foundation year trainees.