Pharmacists in Scotland - five-year integrated education programme: scoping report

Report on the integration of the existing four-year pharmacist degree and one-year training scheme into a single five-year programme.

Drivers for change

Pharmacy undergraduate and pre-registration education and training in Scotland is highly regarded across the UK. However, there is a growing requirement to further enhance the initial education and training of pharmacists to meet the developing role of the profession and the needs of the NHS in Scotland. In addition, concern has been expressed regarding the mismatch of numbers between MPharm graduates from the two Schools of Pharmacy and funded PRPS training places and the consequent risk to programme standardisation as well as the confidence and competence of current newly registered pharmacists to deliver emerging future practice models. In addition, there is an argument that other parts of the UK absorb some of the current over-production and this may not be sustainable as new arrangements are implemented.

The key driver for any change to the current arrangements for the initial education and training of pharmacists has to be rooted in delivering an educational benefit by ensuring trainees are fully prepared for practice in Scotland as the implementation of Scottish Government policy progresses. In addition, there is robust evidence from other clinical professions of the educational benefit in further integration of undergraduate education and pre-registration training with enhanced experiential learning in clinical practice throughout the period of learning. This also allows earlier assessment of professionalism and provides the opportunity to embed the development of clinical skills. There is also an opportunity to further align work on improving the interprofessional learning ( IPL) at undergraduate level between Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy with a focus on person-centred care and patient safety to ensure shared values support increasingly collaborative models of practice. NES Pharmacy has already commissioned the School of Medicine at the University of Dundee and the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen to appointed a joint Academic IPL Fellow whose role is to design, deliver and evaluate IPL between undergraduate medical and pharmacy students at both institutions. The first year of the research programme (2014-15) involved a mapping of the standards required of undergraduate education for the professions regulated by the General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council. The mapping has been subsequently used as a framework for creating and evaluating IPL pilots which allow for reference back to the regulatory standards.

Another important driver has to be better management of pharmacy trainee numbers to meet workforce demands both in terms of initial recruitment and on-going progression. This, in turn, supports Ministerial priorities to strengthen the workforce, especially in primary care. It also underpins the delivery of the commitment outlined in the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan that every GP practice will have access to a pharmacist with advanced clinical skills by ensuring the new generation of pharmacists are able to practice in the evolving NHS care landscape. Finally, there are a number of issues with the current arrangements: the mismatch of student/trainee numbers registered for the degree programme and the availability of NES PRPS training places available within the service resulting in NES not being able to offer a PRPS place to competent students; a growing number of non-funded PRPS places which has the potential to impact on quality; and variable arrangements for non-funded places which were based on an agreement between the trainee and training provider and with the consequences that students may get paid an equivalent salary, they may get paid less, they may not get paid at all or they may be asked to pay the training provider.


Email: Elaine Muirhead

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Back to top