Apprenticeship: PDA accepts anonymous invitation

An employer group supported by Health Education England are trying again to develop a pharmacist apprenticeship proposal. On this occasion the employer group is engaging at an earlier stage with key stakeholders, such as the PDA, but they continue to refuse to publish a list of their members meaning the process remains characterised by secrecy.

Thu 30th May 2019 The PDA

Just days after the announcement that the previous attempt to develop a pharmacist apprenticeship had failed, the PDA received an invitation from Skills for Health to a stakeholder engagement session to discuss another proposal.  Skills for Health are acting on behalf of Health Education England (HEE) who have been mandated by the government to support employer groups to explore and develop apprenticeship standards in health.

The PDA recognise that the lack of transparency and involvement of the profession in the previous proposal was a major concern to the sector and we have publicly and privately (via the institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education – IFATE) asked the employer group to identify themselves.  They have chosen not to do so, hence we do not know if this invitation comes from the exact same group of employers that were behind the previous proposal, or not.

PDA Director, Paul Day said “We understand that the normal process for IFATE proposals does not include publication of the names of participants in the employer group, but we think pharmacists deserve the transparency we are asking for given the exceptional response to the proposal. 

It’s disappointing that this group are choosing to remain anonymous and it does nothing positive for the credibility of their proposal. However, we will be attending the meeting as the voice of our many pharmacist members needs to be heard in this process”

PDA understand that part of the criteria for a proposal to be accepted is that it will fill a skills gap in the country and we would like to get beyond the difficulties caused by the continued secrecy and discuss the facts around that suggestion.

Some employers would argue that unsocial hours, BREXIT and lack of qualified applicants mean they have trouble filling some posts in some parts of the country.  However, pharmacists tell the PDA that it is low hourly rates, poor levels of staffing in the pharmacy team, the focus on income generation rather than patient care and treatment by local management that are more often the reasons they won’t accept roles.  The PDA would welcome an informed discussion about reasons for any recruitment difficulties and the measures that could overcome those issues.

Paul Day added “The government’s assessment this month that there was insufficient stakeholder evidence of a chronic shortage of pharmacists to add the profession to the ‘shortage occupation list’ suggests that faced with evidence, decision makers accept there is an adequate supply of qualified pharmacists who could fill vacancies, if those roles were suitably attractive

PDA will continue to call for increased transparency in the “apprenticeship” process and positively engage in discussions about any proposals on behalf of the profession.

Note: Number of pharmacists in the UK

The PSNI’s Annual Report for 2017-18 declares 2,479 registered pharmacists and 548 registered pharmacy premises in Northern Ireland on 31st May 2018.

The GPhC’s Annual Report 2017-18 declares 55,258 registered pharmacists in Great Britain and 14,348 premises.

Related links

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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