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University of Leicester launches MPharm programme to tackle UK’s pharmacist shortage


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Jobs in pharmacy sector are likely to grow by almost 7% by 2027, creating new 4,700 jobs

The University of Leicester has launched a four-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) programme to help bridge the nation’s skills gap, and address challenges in the National Health Service (NHS).

Acknowledging the pharmacist workforce crisis, the UK government last year unveiled ‘NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan’ with an aim to increase the training places for pharmacists to around 5,000 places by 2031/32.

The 2022 Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey published by NHS England also reported an increase in the vacancy rate for all roles in the sector, including pharmacy technicians (20 per cent), pharmacists (16 per cent) and dispensing assistants (nine per cent).

While there was a 15 per cent decline in employed pharmacists, use of locum pharmacists increased by 26 per cent.

According to the UK Government’s labour market data, jobs in pharmacy sector are likely to grow by almost seven per cent by 2027, leading to 4,700 new jobs. In the same period, over 52 per cent of the workforce is projected to retire, creating 35,600 job openings.

Professor David Wright, Head of the School of Healthcare at the University, commented: “With a rise in people accessing the ever-growing range of pharmacy services and the projected number of new job openings in the profession, it’s clear to see the UK is in dire need of newly qualified pharmacists.

“Given the need for more pharmacists who can take responsibility for aspects of patient care, including the prescribing of medicines, we have worked quickly and closely with patients, carers and employers to design a new and innovative MPharm programme at Leicester.”

The programme, which will start from autumn 2024, will be led by pharmacists and delivered by pharmacists.

“Students will be surrounded by professional role models who will not only deliver knowledge and know-how but also guide them through to becoming safe and caring healthcare professionals,” Professor Wright added.

Students will be offered placements across a range of settings with pharmacy teams across the Midlands, including in community pharmacies, hospitals and GP surgeries.

This course is provisionally accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), meaning successful graduates can enter Foundation Year training and then become a registered pharmacist.

The University is working towards full accreditation, which is the standard procedure for a new MPharm degree.

From September 2024, the University of Bath is also making its MPharm programme available at the University of Plymouth.

The two universities have collaborated with NHS England to expand the MPharm programme to address community pharmacist workforce shortages, particularly in the south west of England.





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