Pharmacists Train Up for Post-Lockdown Demand – Free CPD Courses

With restricted access to GP practices, people are turning to their local pharmacists. 56% of pharmacists have experienced increased hours. They are also expected to provide advice and information on a wider range of medical issues than ever before. To prepare, pharmacists need to train and invest in their CPD.

Working alongside professional health bodies and Royal Colleges for more than 26 years, Health Professional Academy is a free online learning channel from the publishers of Emma’s Diary and parenting website Families, Lifecycle Marketing. Specialising in pharmacy, midwifery, nursing and other perinatal training, they have three focus areas: Mum & Baby, Child Health and Pharmacy.


The Covid-19 pandemic put immense strain on the medical sector. At its peak, hospitals faced an intake of over 35,000 patients with coronavirus every day

The NHS put a halt on a range of services for patients without Coronavirus. If your medical concern was minor, you were advised to wait. Other patients, who needed immediate care, were too frightened to leave the house. With A&E attendances dropping by 50% in some areas.

With vaccinations in full effect, doctors are hoping to return to normal. But their biggest concern is the 40% increase in demand from the backlog of the pandemic.

With restricted access to GP practices, people are turning to their local pharmacists. 56% of pharmacists have experienced increased hours. They are also expected to provide advice and information on a wider range of medical issues than ever before.

To prepare, pharmacists need to train and invest in their CPD.

What is CPD?

A professional has an ongoing responsibility to make sure their skills and knowledge are sufficient and up to date. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) involves training yourself to help develop and learn new skills.

Your CPD obligations vary depending on your job. Certain professional bodies review the CPD of their members. Whenever you complete CPD, you earn points. To remain a part of a body, you may need a set number of points. Your CPD points are usually documented in a portfolio, which highlights your skills and knowledge. It also helps maintain standards by communicating whether you have adequate qualifications to do your job.

CPD brings career prospects. The more time you invest into your development, the more evidence you have of your diverse skills. Which opens the door to more opportunities.

Pharmacist CPD Requirements

To operate in Great Britain, all pharmacists must be credited by the GPhC (General Pharmaceutical Council.) To remain a member, pharmacists must revalidate every year. “CPD revalidation” means recording everything done to keep their knowledge up to date and reflecting on how they put it into practice. This usually requires the submission of up to nine annual CPD points.

Given the disruption caused by Covid-19, the GPhC has temporarily changed their requirements. Between the 1st May and 30th November 2021, you only need: four CPD recorded points; one record of peer discussion; and one reflective account – this being a summary of your actions over the last year. It’s an opportunity to assess whether your actions met basic standards. In it, you must discuss either:

  • Standard 3: Did you communicate effectively?
  • Standard 6: Did you behave professionally?
  • Standard 9: Have you demonstrated leadership?

The pharmacist is responsible for recording this in their GPhC account. They aren’t expected to submit evidence for all training. But the GPhC will indicate when they want to see someone’s CPD records (at least once every five years).

Tips for Professional Development

Training, reflecting, and updating your GPhC record is a continuous process. You should be completing CPD all throughout your career. Doing so helps you prepare for any drastic changes you might experience, like a global pandemic. During revalidation, we recommend you:

  • Work out what you need to learn before starting. What skills do need? What do you hope to learn? Doing so means you’re filling in skill gaps you might have. For example, during the pandemic, you may hope to improve your diagnostic skills.
  • Document at least 1-2 pieces of learning each month. The more you complete, the greater your skillset and easier it is to prove.
  • Frequently discuss your personal development with colleagues. In preparation for the peer discussion requirement and for tips on developing your skills.
  • Make use of online pharmacy courses, to boost your skillset and gain CPD points.

If you fail to meet CPD standards, the GPhC may revoke your membership, or remove your accreditation for a certain speciality. So it’s essential you keep on top of your CPD requirements.

Pharmacists should use CPD to upskill

Right now, pharmacists are the first port of call for most of our medical issues. It’s essential they have the skills and knowledge to:

  • Assess a medical problem, provide support and advice.
  • Spot the signs of a serious medical emergency and take the appropriate action.
  • Only pass the case onto a GP or doctor when necessary (to alleviate the burden on the NHS).

This goes beyond the scope of their job before the pandemic. But it has become a necessity following the surge in demand. Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society believes “pharmacies will continue to delivery NHS services long into the future.” If so, these skills may become a long-term requirement.

To provide adequate support, they must upskill. They can do so by targeting their annual CPD training towards learning how to fulfil this new role.

I’m a pharmacist. How can I effectively invest in my CPD?

We recommend using the course by The Health Professional Academy to train and gain CPD points. These courses are free and can be used towards your revalidation with the GPhC.

During the pandemic, 62% of pharmacists were having to work extra (unpaid) hours and so many struggled to find the time to fulfil their CPD requirements. Fortunately, these Pharmacy Academy modules only take 30-60 minutes to complete. They are mobile-optimized, so can be completed at a convenient time on the go.

In addition, the courses count towards the reflection section of the GPhC requirement.  It’s quick and easy. Upon completion, you will be emailed a certificate you can put towards your revalidation.

The academy provides CPD modules on a range of topics, which will help address medical issues the public might have. To name a few, modules on:

  • Managing dental pain will teach you about common causes of dental problems and recommended OTC treatment options.
  • Common nasal problems will teach you about the basic structure of the nasal passage, common conditions, and prevention.
  • Childhood Immunisation will help you to update your knowledge of the current immunization schedule for babies; will teach you about the immunization schedule for babies; when to postpone or not implement one; and how to address concerns.
  • Perinatal mental health will update your knowledge on its effects and risks; helping you to identify those women at particular risk and how to support them in getting the care they need.

These are just a few of the modules on offer. Each will equip you for meeting current demand. Visit the HPA website for more pharmacy courses.


This post was last modified on 30 June 2021

Tags: COVID-19
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