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The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has begun a consultation on changes to requirements for training as a pharmacist independent prescriber and being annotated as an independent prescriber on the Register of Pharmaceutical Chemists.

The eight-week public consultation running was launched on Monday (April 4) and will run from until 12-noon on May 30, 2022.

The outline of the proposed consultation:

  • to decide in principle to remove the requirement set out in the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1994, (the Regulations), that a pharmacist must be on the Register for two years or more before they can be annotated as an IP;
  • to remove the two-year requirement for entry onto stand-alone pharmacist independent prescribing courses, contained in the Standards for the Education and Training of Independent Prescribers, replacing it with an assessment, by course providers, of competence to enter the course; and
  • to remove the requirement to have relevant experience in a specific clinical or therapeutic area and to replace it with the requirement to have relevant experience in appropriate clinical setting(s).

Dr Jim Livingstone, president of the Council of PSNI, said: “There have been significant changes in pharmacy education and training in the last 18 months. These include the introduction of new Initial Education and Training Standards for pharmacists and the introduction of a Foundation Training Year to replace pharmacist pre-registration training.

“The Governments in the United Kingdom have set a clear direction which will see pharmacist independent prescribers becoming increasingly important in the delivery of pharmacy services. This has led to one of the major changes in new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists. Once these standards have been implemented in full, it will mean that all trainees will become independent prescribers at the point of joining our register.

“The proposed changes in this consultation arise from this development and seek to ensure that the present requirements for annotating the Register are appropriate and workable. It also makes proposals to revise the Standards for Education and Training of pharmacist independent prescribers, for stand-alone independent prescribing courses.

“The Council of the Pharmaceutical Society NI is clear that our primary objective is to protect patients and the public. We are also clear that wherever possible meeting this objective should not be an obstacle to innovation within the pharmacy profession and the development of healthcare services, which will benefit the public. We consider that the proposed changes will ensure the standards can meet the requirements of future service delivery and the development of the profession, whilst maintaining public and patient safety.

“We will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the GPhC in this important area and I would encourage pharmacists, patients and all interested groups to respond to this consultation”.

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