This follows a request from the Government for both organisations to review the current arrangements for the study of pharmacy, and the publication of a report by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence on the future pharmacist workforce.
The consultation will address concerns that there may be an over-supply of pharmacy graduates, compared with the demand for registered pharmacists and the consequent availability of pre-registration placements in the NHS.
The HEFCE/HEE joint consultation proposes three options:
The consultation is aimed at a wide range of stakeholders, including universities, employers, regulators, professional bodies and students. It is open until 15 November and the outcomes and next steps will be published in early 2014. This first stage will be followed by a more detailed second-stage consultation in 2014. Any changes are likely to take effect from the 2015-16 academic year. HEFCE and HEE are keen to ensure that the interests of current and prospective students are fully respected at all points in this process.
Sir Alan Langlands, HEFCE Chief Executive, said:
‘This is a pivotal moment for pharmacy education and training, and this consultation offers everyone with an interest in this matter an opportunity to give their views on the future direction of travel. We do not have a firm view but it will be especially important to consider the impact of any decision on the wider population, patients in the NHS and current and prospective students who wish to pursue a professional careers in pharmacy.’
Professor Chris Welsh, Director of Education and Quality at HEE, said:
‘Having the right number of staff with the right skills and attitudes is of course central to patient care. Through this consultation, we are looking to explore, with employers, universities, students, professional bodies and patient groups, the best options available to deliver safe, effective use of medicines and public health by pharmacists and their teams. Delivering a pharmacist workforce, fit for the future, is how we can ensure, above everything else, that we provide safe and high quality care to patients’.