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Pharmacists to receive further mental health training

The pathway is a programme designed to develop pharmacists’ knowledge of mental health among patients

Following a successful initiation, Health Education England (HEE) and the University of Bradford’s mental health training programme – designed for experienced pharmacists – has been granted a two-year extension.

The Specialist Mental Health Pharmacist Training Pathway was developed in 2021 in response to the NHS Long Term Plan and the NHS People Plan. The intention of the plans was to develop the experience and skills of pharmacists working in new roles within community mental health services.

These positions are an essential element of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) within new models of integrated primary and community mental health care for adults with severe mental health problems. The initial group of 50 pharmacists are due to complete their training next month.

The pathway is a specific 12-month programme designed to develop pharmacists’ knowledge of medicines optimisation, initiation and personalisation within mental health.

Furthermore, HEE has now pledged to fund this vital process for a further two years, thereby extending training to another 70 pharmacists every year. The University of Bradford will operate alongside Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust to support a wider level of practice for experienced pharmacists.

Director of studies and postgraduate lead at the University of Bradford, Dr Gemma Quinn, was in no doubt about the importance of the course: “We are so pleased to be able to continue to offer this programme to specialist pharmacists working in these innovative new roles. Our online national programme has been designed to help pharmacists connect with each other to learn and develop long-lasting networks.

“This pathway will enable them to provide excellent care for complex patients, and empower them to lead innovation and service improvement within our NHS.”

Matthew Elswood, national specialty adviser for mental health pharmacy at NHS England, added: “This extended training offer providing ongoing support for specialist mental health pharmacists working in new roles is a very positive and welcome development. We have evaluated and improved the training to ensure our workforce has the best support available to meet the challenges of optimising the use of medicines for people with severe and enduring mental illness.”

University of Bradford associate professor Diane Webb, who is leading the project, reflected: “It is with a sense of pride we are continuing to play our part developing pharmacist leaders for the new roles in primary and community mental health teams throughout England.”

She added: “Continuous evaluation and adaptation of the pathway will drive innovation, collaboration, communication and education using distance learning and team-based learning pedagogy.”

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