Pharmacy bodies have reacted to the news that the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IATE) has declared the pharmacy apprenticeship proposal ‘not ready to go through to development’.

The arms-length Government body announced on Wednesday (22 May) that it will not progress the proposal until representatives from a wider range of pharmacy sectors are included in the group developing it and further engagement takes places with sector stakeholders.


NPA: ‘we should take the time to get it right’

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) welcomed IATE’S clarification that the pharmacy apprenticeship would require an MPharm as it supports ‘the highest standards’ of pharmacy education.

A spokesperson said: ‘The NPA is clear that any new approach to education and training must maintain or enhance the professional standing of pharmacists, the skills of pharmacists and the scope of pharmacist practice. Properly conceived and constructed degree-level apprenticeships for pharmacists could increase access, enabling new talent to enter the profession, so we should take the time to get it right.

‘The NPA will take part in the ongoing discussions, as our members rightly expect us to help shape any new approach to developing the pharmacist workforce.’


PDA: ‘this is not the end of the matter’

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) highlighted that although the proposal seems to have failed its first test ‘this is not the end of the matter’ and called for greater transparency if it is to be pursued further.

PDA director Paul Day said: ‘If the employer group intends to try again to progress their plans, we believe they should first identify themselves and approach their proposal with the level of transparency which the profession deserves. Simply adding more anonymous members to an existing anonymous group is not going to improve the credibility of the proposal, or the process.’

A PDA spokesperson added: ‘In the absence of transparency and the opportunity to discuss the matter with those who are behind the proposal we are yet to hear the arguments supporting the idea that a pharmacist apprenticeship is either necessary or desirable.’

The union also called for the 6,000 responses to the initial ten-day consultation, or a summary of them, to be made public. The PDA said it could see ‘no valid reason’ not to do so, although it has learned that it is IATE’s normal practice not to publish consultation responses.

However, the PDA welcomed IATE’s recognition of the sector’s ‘strength of feeling’ on the proposal in acknowledging that wider stakeholder involvement is required. Mr Day added: ‘If employers, or others, continue to seek to progress this idea, the PDA will continue to work with other stakeholders to discuss the proposals and keep our members advised of developments.’


RPS commits to ‘remain vigilant’

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) welcomed the news and said it had ‘many concerns’ that are yet to be answered before the proposal moves to the next stage.

RPS director for education and professional development Gail Fleming said: ‘We are delighted that the need to listen to the profession has been recognised. It is important to ensure that all pharmacy sectors have a voice. We will continue to work with our members to make sure that their views and concerns are heard’.

The professional body committed to ‘remain vigilant’, monitor the situation closely and keep members updated with any developments.


GPhC ‘will continue to engage’

A spokesperson for the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said: ‘As the regulator we will continue to engage with IATE and the trailblazer group in order to give preliminary, regulatory advice, as we have with all trailblazer bids where this work continues.

‘As we have previously confirmed, any pharmacist degree apprenticeship must include an MPharm degree accredited by us and pre-registration training. In addition, all apprenticeship trainees would have to pass our registration assessment before registering as a pharmacist.’