Will pharmacy prescription require more staff?

August 14, 2008

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has questioned whether there are enough teaching and management staff to handle an expansion in courses resulting from government reforms of pharmacy.

Universities are anticipating increasing demand for pharmacy courses after the Building on Strengths - Delivering the Future White Paper, which proposes to extend the role of pharmacists to cover some services currently handled by GPs.

"With the developments to extend pharmacy services as mentioned in the White Paper, there may be a shortfall of professional leadership or teaching staff at undergraduate and postgraduate level, particularly when pharmacy courses are extended to include clinical education, or if the number of institutions providing pharmacy courses are increased," an RPSGB spokesman said.

The RPSGB re-accredited the University of Wolverhampton's masters pharmacy course last week, two months after it withdrew support over a staffing issue and concerns about quality assurance.

Announcing the re-accreditation after an appeal, the RPSGB said: "The situation will be closely monitored. The society will be contacting the university about outstanding issues that are not related to the original decision to disengage from the MPharm accreditation process but do need resolution."

The university has denied the RPSGB's claims of quality assurance problems and has said the decision to withdraw accreditation was only related to the number of professors in the department. At the time of the society's withdrawal, the university was in the process of appointing a fifth professor, which would have met the RPSGB's requirement. A university official said: "The society confirmed that it has re-engaged with the accreditation process and also confirmed that there are no issues with the quality of teaching or student achievement."

Vice-chancellor Caroline Gipps added: "It was important to dispute the original decision as it implied poor quality of provision and was a threat to our reputation."

A source within the sector said the RPSGB "had it in for" post-1992 universities offering pharmacy courses as it saw these universities as "weakening the brand".


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