Nearly 200 additional places will be funded for pharmacists to undertake the practice certificate in independent prescribing, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has announced.

This means all community-based pharmacists in Scotland already on the 2021/22 waiting list will have the opportunity to undertake the qualification.

As a result of increased service demand, NES said it was funding 186 additional places for community, hospital and primary care pharmacists working in Scotland who were already on the waiting list.

The increase supplements 244 places already funded in 2021/2022, contributing to the largest ever cohort of pharmacists undertaking the qualification. The Dundee Clinical Skills Collaborative will provide additional consultation and clinical assessment skills to enhance the training.

The increase is aimed at supporting the delivery of the NHS Pharmacy First Plus service in community pharmacy; pharmacist-led clinics in primary care as part of the pharmacotherapy service; and inpatient and outpatient prescribing in secondary care.

Harry McQuillan, chief executive at Community Pharmacy Scotland, said: ‘Such is the commitment from the community pharmacy network in Scotland to supporting independent prescribing and the development of the NHS Pharmacy Plus service, that pharmacy owners have allocated funding from their negotiated financial envelope to ensure all community-based pharmacists on the 2021/22 waiting list have the opportunity to undertake this qualification. Community Pharmacy Scotland is grateful to our colleagues at NHS Education Scotland for working with us to devise and secure such an expansion.’

Professor Anne Watson, postgraduate pharmacy dean, NES, said the additional training places responded to a need to widen patient access to pharmaceutical services across all sectors of pharmacy practice.

‘Having the appropriate numbers and qualifications in the NHS workforce will be crucial to support developments for the pharmacy profession and the NHS Scotland Recovery plan. The recognition of the need for prescribing pharmacists to deliver accessible, timely patient care, together with the level of funding awarded, is a real boost for the profession,’ said Professor Watson.

Professor Alison Strath, chief pharmaceutical officer for the Scottish Government, said the additional funding would support ambitions to build greater clinical capacity and capability, better manage demand, improve safety, and support the redesign of traditional professional roles and boundaries to advance patient care.

This comes after The Pharmacist explored last month whether we have maximised the potential of pharmacist independent prescriber, and whether more training places should be made available.