The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has warned that there are ‘serious risks’ if appropriate funding is not secured alongside a new proposal to introduce a pharmacy apprenticeship scheme.
Last week (25 October), it was announced that a second pharmacy apprenticeship proposal is in development that will ‘take into account’ the concerns raised by the sector last time the idea was mooted.
Concerns included a dearth of transparency behind the plans and a lack of diversity among the range of pharmacy employers advocating the scheme.
Responding to the news, RPS director for education Gail Fleming said there are ‘serious risks if appropriate levels of funding are not secured’.
A spokesperson for the employer group that is developing the proposal – which includes Boots and Well – said last week that the group will consider the apprenticeship’s ‘financial viability’.
They added: ‘The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IATE) will allocate a funding band as part of the approval process that will be a contribution to the overall funding and the group is also researching other funding opportunities.’
Needs ‘support from all sectors’
The upcoming proposal ‘must have support from all sectors of practice’ and be ‘aligned’ with any developments in pharmacy education more widely, Ms Fleming said.
However, a five-year degree apprenticeship could provide further opportunities to what is currently offered in pharmacy training, including integrated ‘time in practice’ that is subject to regulatory scrutiny, she added.
She said: ‘It may also enable access into the profession for those who find the traditional route prohibitive dependent on their personal circumstances, whilst maintaining the integrity of degree entry.’
Ms Fleming welcomed the employer group’s acknowledgement of the concerns raised by the RPS and its commitment to increasing transparency.
When the first pharmacy apprenticeship proposal was put forward in April, the RPS said it would not support the plans unless more ‘clarity and detail’ were provided.