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More independent prescribing training places announced

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More independent prescribing training places announced

Collaboration and role expansion were two of the key themes of the chief pharmaceutical officer’s keynote address at this year’s Clinical Pharmacy Congress.

England’s CPhO, David Webb, announced an additional 3,000 funded independent prescribing training places for community pharmacy in 2024/25. Pharmacy technician apprentices and designated prescribing practitioners (DPPs) will also be able to access ARRS funding via primary care networks and integrated care boards.

In the 2022/23 academic year, 2,467 pharmacists successfully completed an IP qualification in England, Mr Webb told delegates. In March 2024, the number of pharmacists in England with an IP annotation increased to 14,945 from 12,529 the previous year. This represents over a quarter (27 per cent) of registered pharmacists in England.

“As prescribers, these ‘next generation’ pharmacists will help the NHS meet urgent demand for increased clinical skills for clinical care, prevention of ill health and optimising outcomes from medicines,” he said. “Prescribing will clarify lines of accountability and responsibility, and will allow [pharmacists] to significantly improve the care for people with long-term conditions.”

All pharmacists will soon be trained to the same enhanced clinical level on registration creating a more flexible workforce that will make it easier to move between sectors, he added.

A total of 185 community pharmacy prescribing pathfinder sites are set for onboarding across 42 ICBs as EPS connectivity is deployed, with 14 sites having already gone live. The most popular clinical models included minor ailments (107 sites), hypertension (73 sites) and respiratory (37 sites). “We’re making great progress,” he said.

Transforming practice

Highlighting other work to transform community pharmacy’s professional practice, Mr Webb updated delegates on a pilot supporting early cancer diagnosis. This involves 50 pharmacies looking at the early diagnosis of lung, head and neck, and gynaecological cancers, testing direct referral into secondary care and rapid diagnostic hubs.

“Community pharmacy teams deserve huge appreciation for the work they’ve done to develop and embrace new clinical pharmacy services, such as the cancer referral pilot. That has put us in a much better place for all future developments,” he said.

Mr Webb also announced the establishment of a new community pharmacy PCN engagement lead role, funded by NHS England, to support the implementation of the pharmacy elements of the Primary Care Access Recovery Plan, including Pharmacy First, the blood pressure check service and the pharmacy contraception service.

“The role will be critical in shaping engagement between community pharmacy and PCNs, facilitating partnership to support integrated clinical pathways for patients. It is very good news.”

It is a “really exciting time” to be a pharmacist and a pharmacy technician in the NHS even though the environment is very challenging, Mr Webb concluded.

“There are significant pressures, but we are also seeing an unprecedented expansion in professional practice and a corresponding expansion in terms of opportunities to deliver direct patient care. That’s why we all joined the NHS in the first place.”

He urged delegates to work together across professional, sector or organisational boundaries. Working collaboratively to find solutions is key. Dealing with challenges is easier if pharmacy professionals and teams in different organisations collaborate and behave as a single health system. “We are all part of one pharmacy team,” he said.





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