The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) has announced it is “pleased to participate” in the Expert Advisory Panel appointed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to review opportunities for new academic programmes in pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, nursing and veterinary disciplines.
The PSI has welcomed as timely the HEA-led initiative to identify the possibility for further higher education capacity for pharmacy in Ireland as part of seeking to meet the skills needs across the five professional disciplines. It comes at a time when the PSI is pursuing a commitment to examine the issue of the availability of a professional pharmacy workforce into the future so that pharmacy may continue to meet patient and health service needs.
Appointment of the Expert Advisory Panel marks the second stage of an initial expression of interest phase in 2022, during which institutions responded to the HEA with their capability to expand existing courses or to develop new courses for the academic years 2024-25 or 2025-26. The PSI will join representatives of Government departments, the HEA and other regulatory bodies from the relevant disciplines as part of the next stage to review the proposals for the expansion of course capacity in order to present a list of options to Government in March 2023.
As the regulatory authority for pharmacy in Ireland, the PSI has an important role in assuring high standards of education and training in pharmacy. The PSI is responsible for accrediting and approving educational programmes for pharmacy and for setting the accreditation standards that must be met on an ongoing basis by the approved pharmacy programme providers.
The PSI has appointed Dr Nicola Tyers as its nominee to the panel. Dr Tyers is a pharmacist and pharmacy academic, who has worked with the PSI on various registration-related projects and served as Chairperson and member of the MPharm accreditation team for the PSI. She is the Deputy Head of School at the Medway School of Pharmacy, University of Kent. The PSI said it is pleased that Dr Tyers has agreed to contribute her independent expertise to this process.
Speaking about the appointment of the Expert Advisory Panel, PSI Registrar and Chief Officer, Joanne Kissane, said: “The significant work being undertaken to identify the potential for additional pharmacy courses and the expansion of capacity within existing programmes is welcomed. The PSI, like others across the health sector, is aware of the workforce-related challenges, including recruitment and retention, within the current pharmacy environment.
“We embarked last year on our own project to assess the emerging risks to the availability of the future pharmacy workforce and to work towards solutions in relation to these. The possibility of developing future educational capacity for pharmacy is timely. It is one component that will assist with ensuring requisite pharmacists will remain available to meet patient needs and the needs of the evolving healthcare system in Ireland, where we have the expectation of increased demands on our health services and for the provision of care by pharmacists and pharmacies.”