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Apprenticeships in pharmacy are being driven for commercial reasons

Dr Ian Maidment


I believe that potentially that this proposal could be very damaging for a number of reasons. Allow me to briefly explain why.


We need to develop pharmacists as independent thinkers. I mean pharmacists and not company ‘x’ pharmacists.


There is already evidence that pharmacists struggle with this, partly because we tend to be very isolated and also have rigid management structures to adhere to when pharmacists aren’t always encouraged to report unsafe practice. There is research from a PhD, from I believe the UoL, which showed that newly qualified pharmacists prioritise following company SOPs over patient safety.


This could worsen if the training was under an apprenticeship focussed within a single organisation from a young age (e.g. 18) when the apprentices are more likely to be influenced.


Secondly, I can’t see any rationale for this except for commercial reasons. By increasing the number of pharmacists this would drive down the salaries. Also, see my earlier comment about having more malleable staff.


Ultimately, by downgrading the status, and salaries, of pharmacists this is likely to mean that it will be more difficult to attract very able students to the profession. If the quality of pharmacist graduates decreases this will limit the ability of pharmacy to deliver the NHS agenda and potentially compromise patient safety.


Finally, there has been virtually no discussion about this in the pharmacy profession and there is very little information about the scheme including the organisations involved.


Dr Ian Maidment is a pharmacist who works in academia. He has interests in psychiatric pharmacy as well as medicines and devices in ageing.


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