The Welsh Government has announced plans to pump £4.9m into “transforming” the training it offers pre-registration pharmacists and boosting the number of pre-reg places in Wales to almost double the current levels.
An additional £3.6m is to be invested in pharmacist training in 2020-21, rising to £4.9m by 2023-24. Altogether, the Government plans to increase the number of pre-registration training places from around 120 each year to 200 by August 2023.
In what is described as a UK first, all Welsh pre-reg trainees will be employed and trained by the NHS regardless of whether the majority of their training is completed in a community pharmacy, hospitals or GP surgery setting. Health Education and Improvement Wales said “centralising employment removes barriers” between sectors and would free up time to focus on providing training.
The programme will see trainees working in a wider range of settings, HEIW said, with places in GP practices and other areas in addition to hospital and community pharmacies.
A Government statement spoke of the need to “ensure Wales has a sustainable, appropriately trained workforce” of pharmacists, who are “playing an increasingly important role” in healthcare.
Health minister Vaughan Gething said Wales had “made great strides” in deploying its pharmacist workforce, “with pharmacists providing advice and treatment, reducing the burden on our GPs”.
Mr Gething said: “As demand for their clinical skills increase we must ensure we are able to train a sufficient number of pharmacists to meet the needs of the NHS in Wales in all sectors of pharmacy practice.
“This new, unique and distinctive approach to training will meet the growing expectations of UK pharmacy graduates and the long-term needs of the NHS in Wales.”
The training investment was announced alongside the Train, Work, Live campaign, aimed at attracting healthcare professionals to work in Wales. The pharmacy arm of the campaign is focused on encouraging pharmacy students to consider doing their pre-reg placement in Wales.
Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Andrew Evans said Wales wanted to “attract the highest calibre of pharmacy graduates” and that pharmacists working in Wales “can benefit from a well-integrated healthcare system, facilitating knowledge sharing and innovation across a wide range of settings, allowing us to give our patients the best care possible”.
Royal Pharmaceutical Society Welsh board chair Suzanne Scott-Thomas said: “More pharmacists are now needed to meet the increasing demand from patients and to realise the aspirations of multi-professional approaches to care delivery.
“Today’s announcement will put us on an exciting course of action to attract more pharmacists to train and work in Wales and to ensure a sound foundation for pharmacists through multi-sector experience across the NHS.”