UK pharmacists could undertake fast-track retraining as doctors now that the country has left the European Union, UK officials have stated. In a statement published recently, the government said the UK’s departure from the EU means that pharmacists and other healthcare professionals would not have to follow the EU requirement of 5,500 hours of training over five years to become a doctor. However, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Britain has expressed misgivings over the proposal, saying recruiting pharmacists could become “challenging”. 

Medical bodies have said they also have misgivings, with Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the British Medical Association council, saying that doctors’ education and the quality of patient care would both be “compromised”. However, the UK government has said it sees the move as a way to “retrain healthcare workers and get them back to the frontline faster”.

A report in the Pharmaceutical Journal stated the proposal, if implemented, could contribute to its commitment of adding 6,000 GPs to the NHS workforce by 2025. A statement from NHS England said the “newly-designed courses could take into account existing qualifications, training and experience, making it easier and quicker for existing healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapists or pharmacists, to train as doctors”. However Dr Nagpaul commented that current training requirements are “hugely important in developing confident and highly capable doctors, given the complex and life-changing decisions they make, often in highly pressurised situations”.

“We believe that training doctors in less time than we do now will compromise their education and reduce the quality and comprehensiveness of patient care.”