Representing Pharmacy Students and Pre-registration Trainees

The BPSA exists to support and represent pharmacy students from day one of the degree through to registration as a pharmacist. Since the formation, in 2010, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) as the profession leadership body for pharmacy and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) as the regulator the BPSA has overhauled how it represents its members.

As the official student organisation of the RPS the voice of students is even stronger than ever before. Below you can find out which organisations the BPSA works with to represent pharmacy students and pre-registration trainee pharmacists – and more importantly, what the Association is doing to ensure its members are listened to.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society Royal Pharmaceutical Society

The President of the BPSA attends the meetings of the English Pharmacy Board to have direct input into discussions regarding leadership of the profession. During these meetings the BPSA updates the RPS on its current activities and offers important opinions on behalf of the students. Recently, the BPSA has had important input into discussions around student numbers and workforce planning.

The BPSA also enjoys close working relationships with many of the management and executive teams within the RPS. Regular contact ensures the student voice is heard in all departments from membership & marketing to professional development & support and even policy development. This has allowed the BPSA to influence RPS decisions around the Tier 5 work VISAs for international students and offer students an accredited Professional Development Scheme that has more impact with employers.

Jointly, the BPSA and RPS share over 13,500 members which makes the pharmacy student voice more influential than it has ever been.

Modernising Pharmacy Careers Programme

Initiated by the Labour Government the Modernising Pharmacy Careers (MPC) Programme aims to reform the undergraduate education of pharmacists, remodel the postgraduate education and career paths available to pharmacists, and undertake workforce modelling and planning. The BPSA has a seat on all work streams of MPC and also sits on the Programme Board, which gives oversight to the projects undertaken by the work streams.

The proposals put forward to government include integrating the pre-registration training year into the MPharm to develop a five-year programme. These are proposals the BPSA has supported before the MPC Programme was initiated. However, the BPSA feels it is still vital for its members’ views to be represented within MPC to ensure the outcomes are beneficial for students.

UK Government

More recently the BPSA has had reason to make more effort to directly lobby the government regarding proposed changes that affect pharmacy students and pre-registration trainees. Much of this work was undertaken alongside other organisations and involved various government departments, some of which are given below.

Law comissionLaw Commission
– In 2012 the Law Commissions of the UK published a consultation proposing major changes to the legislation that dictates the roles and powers of the healthcare regulators. One of these changes included introducing compulsory registration of healthcare students, which would include pharmacy students. At the BPSA Annual Conference, April 2012, delegates voted in favour of a motion against the registration of pharmacy students with the GPhC and this formed the basis of the Association’s consultation response. Due to the significance of this consultation the BPSA Executive also sought advice from the RPS and GPhC to help inform its response.

dep of health logoUK Border Agency & Department of Health – October 2011 saw pharmacy removed from the shortage occupation list, which meant international students (non-EEA) would struggle to get the Tier 2 VISA required to undertake the pre-registration training year. The BPSA had meetings with the UK Border Agency, Home Office, and Department of Health to represent the international students that make up a significant section of its membership. The latter part of this work heavily involved the RPS who successfully set up a Tier 5 VISA system that would allow international students to undertake their pre-registration training within the community sector.

General Pharmaceutical Council General Pharmaceutical Council Logo

Since the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) took over the role of the regulator for pharmacy in October 2010, the BPSA has worked hard to develop strong links with staff at the GPhC and ensure it is involved in official opinion seeking and consultation processes. Members of the BPSA Executive meet regularly with senior staff at the GPhC to share opinion and update on important work. The BPSA is also invited to attend the annual pre-registration training managers meeting where it can input into important development regarding the training year.

To date the BPSA has been paramount in the positive changes made to the registration exam and lobbied for the reduction of fees charged to trainees, which were reduced April 2012. The BPSA has also responded to a number of GPhC consultations on registered pharmacy premises and recently published professional guidance.

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association The Pharmacists' Defence Assocation Logo

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) is one of the BPSA’s longest standing supporters and is able to help individual students with matters that relate to professional insurance and fitness to practice. The PDA was key to raising the issues of the June 2011 registration assessment with the GPhC and has helped a number of trainees through the appeals and resits process. More recently the GPhC has worked with the BPSA to represent individual international members that were adversely affected by the VISA changes.

The Pharmaceutical Journal Pharmaceutical Journal Logo

The Pharmaceutical Journal (PJ) is the official publication of the RPS and is sent in hard copy directly to all members, fellows and associates. Many students also utilise the online version of the PJ along with the many resources present within the Tomorrow’s Pharmacist section of the website. The PJ is a vital resource that allows the BPSA to ensure its members’ views are heard by grass-roots members of the profession. The BPSA has worked to develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the PJ team over the past few years and is now approached for opinion and contributions by its reporters.

The PJ regularly publishes news items and opinion pieces from the BPSA and in 2011 an article on the problems of the June 2011 registration assessments was the most read article of the year. In 2012 the Association is ensuring its members opinions are heard around the discussions on student numbers and workforce planning.

Pharmacy Schools Council 

PhSC logoPhSC is the organisation that brings together the heads of schools of pharmacy from across the UK into a single forum. BPSA and PhSC worked collaboratively to work towards a solution to the problems caused by the VISA changes for pre-registration training. More recently have worked together to ensure the BPSA’s message about inflated student numbers is being heard in the highest places.

Company Chemists’ Association Company Chemists' Association Logo

The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) is the representative body for the large multiple and supermarket community pharmacy organisations in the UK. The BPSA is currently working with the CCA to represent the concerns of pharmacy students regarding applications for the pre-registration training year, with the aim to produce guidance for students to help them accept and reject offers in the most appropriate way.

© British Pharmaceutical Students' Association 2013