The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) brought together key stakeholders on 27 January 2022, to discuss establishing a formal group focused on the assurance of post-registration practice of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

The GPhC Council decided to establish the group after considering the recommendations from a short-life working group chaired by Council member Aamer Safdar on the potential leadership and quality assurance role of the GPhC in post-registration education and training for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

Nigel Clarke, Chair of the GPhC, and Dr Jim Livingstone, Council President of the PSNI, co-hosted a meeting on 27 January to seek views from key stakeholders from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the form and function of the group, how it will approach its work and the principles that will underpin its work.

Dr Keith Ridge CBE, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, on behalf of the four UK Chief Pharmaceutical Officers, set out the rationale for the work to assure post-registration practice to maintain patient safety and public confidence and outlined how the work creates a continuum with and builds on the initial education and training transformation programme and work previously led by the Education Governance Oversight Board, which was chaired by the late Professor Peter Kopelman.

The GPhC and PSNI will develop the Terms of Reference for the group, to include the purpose and guiding principles, for discussion at the first meeting.  The regulators will also confirm the group structure and membership, and dates for future meetings.

Nigel Clarke, Chair of the GPhC, said:

“We know there is already a wide range of activity in the post-registration sphere for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. Governments, statutory education providers, the professional bodies and others are already taking forward plans to further improve and develop post-registration education and training.

“But we also recognise that currently there is no consistent approach to quality assurance of post-reg education and training and lack of clarity about what is provided where and why.  We heard from stakeholders at the meeting that a formal group would help to make sure there was a joined-up approach to post-registration practice of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, with a clear focus on patient safety.

“It was very useful to hear the views and insights from key stakeholders at the meeting and their input will help shape the work of this new group. We will also involve patients and the public in the next stages of work to help identify key areas of concern and assurance from their perspective.”

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Dr Keith Ridge CBE, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Northern Ireland Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland Professor Alison Strath and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Wales Andrew Evans said:

“High public, patient and NHS expectations of pharmacy professionals working in multi-professional teams, across rapidly developing areas of professional practice, means we need to further assure patient safety, and public and professional confidence.

“New initial education and training standards are now being implemented for pharmacists, but practitioners also require better support to develop beyond registration to higher levels of practice.

“Consistent standards for professional development pathways will support advancement through key career stages, minimising the risk of patient harm and improving outcomes.”

Dr Jim Livingstone, President of the Pharmaceutical Society NI, said:

“Pharmacy education and practice are going through a period of positive and exciting change, and it is extremely important that there is an appropriate focus on post-registration education and training, to ensure the public are protected and to enable professional development and improving standards.

“This informative meeting has built on the stakeholder engagement work we have carried out in Northern Ireland, and it is right that this work continues on a UK wide basis.

“We look forward to working in partnership with our colleagues in the GPhC, and all stakeholders in this important area”.

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