Select Committee on Innovation, Universities and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 81

Submission from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

  The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain is the regulatory body for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and, as such, has a statutory role in the accreditation of the qualifications for pharmacist and pharmacy technician qualifications. We therefore have a general interest in the provision of appropriate levels of funding for the HE sector insofar as it impacts on the university's ability to produce high quality pharmacy graduates who are safe to deliver high quality NHS services and safe clinical practice. In relation to the proposal to withdraw funding for ELQ's our interest in the Committee's new inquiry is HEFCE's proposal not to include pharmacy in the list of exempt ELQs subjects, which seems to be an important omission in light of the fact that many other healthcare subjects are exempt. The Society sees no reason why pharmacy should be treated any differently to those subjects and questions HEFCE's decision.

  The Society draws the Committee's attention to the submission from the Council of University Heads of Pharmacy [CUHOP], which the Society fully supports. CUHOP points out that pharmacy is being increasingly expected by the public, by policy makers and by members of other healthcare professions to extend its contribution to effective medicines use and the achievement of better health outcomes envisaged in Our Health, Our Care, Our Say and Our NHS, Our Future. Further, CUHOP makes the point that the Society's own workforce modelling work predicts a steady 5% increase in demand for pharmacists at a time when demographic predictions suggest that the pool of younger students applying to university is likely to decline. Indeed pharmacists are on the UK Skills Shortage Occupations List.

  At a time when there is research to suggest additional pharmacists will be needed and young student numbers are likely to decline, HEFCE's ELQs proposal may compound this problem by denying mature graduates access to professional retraining in this shortage subject. As the regulatory body we would be most concerned if implementation of the ELQ policy erects a barrier to exceptional mature students entering our profession—the experience of medical schools that have established graduate entry programmes is that this entry route to the register of qualified doctors is very successful in attracting high quality and committed doctors.

  A related concern the Society would like to share with the Committee is the view of pharmacy HEFCE's proposal suggests: that it is as a laboratory science subject. Currently pharmacy is funded exclusively at HEFCE Band B, for laboratory work, which is substantially lower than Band A, for clinical work. As CUHOP points out, pharmacy is moving ever more into the clinical arena but this is not being recognised in any way by current HEFCE funding. Clinical work in schools of pharmacy needs to be increased substantially to prepare students for new roles, but this work cannot be funded from Band B: the numbers simply do not add up. To give the Committee an idea of the disparity, a Band B-funded student earn a university £6,516 from HEFCE in 2007-08, while a Band A student earns £15,332. On top of Band A funding, medical and dental students have always attracted substantial per capita NHS funding. The differential funds the clinical work enjoyed by doctors and dentists as an integral part of their training—an option which is denied to pharmacists. If pharmacy education is to prepare students adequately for their profession, this issue must be addressed—the teaching, learning and most importantly assessments in pharmacy qualifications must develop to match the level of responsibility for clinical care carried by our registrants.

  To conclude, the Society wishes HEFCE to do two things: first, to add pharmacy to the ELQs exemptions list and, second, to re-examine the funding model for pharmacy to recognise the new clinical role of pharmacists and its consequent impact on the education of pharmacists.

January 2008

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 27 March 2008