Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are set to receive up to £15.9 million over the next four years which will help them thrive in multidisciplinary healthcare teams and enable expansion of frontline staff in primary and community care.

The funding, which is part of the Pharmacy Integration Programme allocation, will improve registered pharmacy professionals’ skills, through a range of training and development opportunities.

The programme is a part of education reform for pharmacy professionals and will allow them to identify career pathways.

Health Education England and NHS England will work in partnership to develop “a formal portfolio recognition process to identify the existing skills, training and experience gained by pharmacists working in primary care, allowing them to work more flexibly and better support GP services”, HEE said in a statement today (November 8).

The two bodies will develop training in independent prescribing for pharmacists working in community pharmacy and others in general practice.

They will also develop course accreditation processes and expand “clinical examination skills training for community pharmacists.”

Another work area includes increasing access to educational, prescribing, and clinical supervisors for pharmacy professionals working across primary care and community sectors.

Alan Ryan, director of National Transformational Programmes at HEE said these changes “will make a big difference to the pharmacy workforce and career development in primary care.

“New funded programmes will foster a range of skills and experiences to help pharmacists and pharmacy technicians thrive in multidisciplinary healthcare teams.”

Richard Cattell, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer at NHSE/I said these changes will allow pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to be “further integrated into wider healthcare delivery as part of multi-professional clinical teams in PCNs.”

Welcoming the announcement, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) chair in England Thorrun Govind said: “Access to training for independent prescribing is vital if pharmacists in England are to work routinely as part of multi-disciplinary teams across primary care to extend the provision of clinical services, especially in community pharmacy.

“To make this happen, services need to be put in place as soon as possible so that existing and future prescribers can use their qualifications to benefit patients.”

She added that “opportunities for pharmacist independent prescribers to improve patient care must always be considered”, particularly when new services are commissioned.

Pharmacy teams must be supported “with the right skill mix and sufficient staff to be able to adapt to their workload and deliver the care their local population requires.”

RPS has been commissioned by HEE to develop a primary care credential which will recognise pharmacists working at an advanced practice level.

“We have already seen a growth in primary care consultant pharmacist posts and these initiatives will provide a pathway for pharmacists to develop into senior roles as well as equipping them with the clinical knowledge and skills needed to provide day to day clinical care.”

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