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NHS Education for Scotland

A skilled and sustainable workforce for a healthier Scotland


We provide education for trainee pharmacists, registered pharmacists and pharmacy technicians across Scotland. We do this through organisation, development, delivery and quality management of educational programmes and professional development courses and resources.

In addition we support the national experiential learning of student pharmacists in Scotland in partnership with Robert Gordon University, University of Strathclyde, and other stakeholders.

Pharmacy Educational reforms in Scotland

Scottish pharmacy bodies have unveiled a five-year timeline to modernise pharmacy education, boosting the number of Independent Prescribers (IPs) and helping to deliver on strategic ambitions for pharmacy in Scotland.    

The plan, which has been co-created by Scotland’s Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, NHS Education for Scotland (NES), the University of Strathclyde and Robert Gordon University, Directors of Pharmacy, Community Pharmacy Scotland, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), sets out timings for the introduction of the new Foundation Training Year, introduction of new GPhC standards, and the eventual graduation of the first new IPs in 2026. 

This is all part of a bigger picture which will enable pharmacists to have a greater role in clinical care, enhanced recognition as experts in medicines and increased roles in public health and wellbeing.    

Find out more about the timeline for the Pharmacy Educational reforms in Scotland

Continuing professional development (CPD)

NES Pharmacy provides national CPD support for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians. This includes courses, e-learning, interprofessional CPD, Practice Based Small Group Learning (PBSGL), postgraduate funding, and Return to Practice support. Find out more on Turas Learn.

Please note, Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in Scotland (including trainees) can access all resources and courses. Contact if you need help accessing these

Experiential learning for student pharmacists in Scotland

'Scottish Pharmacy Experiential Learning' is funded by Scottish Government and organised in partnership between Robert Gordon University, the University of Strathclyde, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and other pharmacy stakeholders.

NES Pharmacy supports experiential learning (EL) in Scotland by managing the financial governance of ACTp funding and providing Quality Management of EL, through training of facilitators and premises approval of training sites, on behalf of the universities.

Find out more about how we support experiential learning for student pharmacists in Scotland.

Foundation Training Year (FTY) 

NES Pharmacy manages the educational infrastructure for trainee pharmacists in Scotland through the Foundation Training Year (FTY) programme. The main components of the FTY programme include; a centralised recruitment process, a standardised training programme and quality assurance of the national programme. 

Find out more about the Foundation Training Year (FTY) 

Post-Registration Foundation programmes for pharmacists 

NES Pharmacy manages the educational infrastructure for Post-Registration Foundation programmes for newly qualified pharmacists in Scotland.  

Find out more about programme prior to Autumn 2021

Find out more about programme launched in Autumn 2021

Advanced expert professional practice training

Advanced expert professional practice training aims to equip practitioners working within a specific area of practice with specialist more advanced skills. Current frameworks include; Infection and Antimicrobial Stewardship, Public Health, The Pharmaceutical Care of Older People, Pharmacists Working in a GP Practice (General Practice Clinical Pharmacist (GPCP) learning pathway).

Find out more about the Advanced expert professional practice training.

Independent prescribing, consultation and clinical assessment skills training

NES Pharmacy supports Pharmacist Independent Prescribers (PIPs) both within their training period , in implementation of their training into practice once they have qualified and those returning to prescribing practice. We commission both Schools of Pharmacy in Scotland to organise and run Independent Prescriber courses each year. Pharmacists who practise in Scotland can also apply to NES Pharmacy for funding to undertake these courses. We provide support through clinical skills courses, teach and treat centres (in collaboration with health boards).

Find out more about prescribing and clinical skills.

Pharmacy technicians

NES Pharmacy provides support to pharmacy technicians through a Vocational Training Foundation programme, designed to build in a progressive manner a common set of behaviours and skills required by all pharmacy technicians. We also support pharmacy technicians to progress towards the Professional Development Award (PDA) in Assessment and Supply of Individual Patients' Medicines at SCQF Level 7.

Vocational training foundation programme for pharmacy technicians

The vocational training foundation programme for pharmacy technicians has been developed in response to an existing gap in pharmacy technician education and development.

The foundation competency framework which underpins the programme has FIVE generic core elements which enable pharmacy technicians working in hospital, community and primary care (including cross sector roles) to undertake a standardised foundation training programme. Additional role specific competencies allow the pharmacy technician to identify development within their own sector allowing them to gain specialised experience.

The programme aims to build in a progressive manner a common set of behaviours and skills required by all pharmacy technicians. It is designed to increase confidence, competence and capability. Pharmacy technicians completing the programme will develop a systematic approach to practice within their defined roles.

The programme is currently in pilot. More information can be found on Turas Learn or by contacting

Learning pathway for pharmacy technicians working in General Practice

NES Pharmacy has developed a new online learning pathway for pharmacy technicians working in General Practice. This redesigned course replaces the previous 3-day Bootcamp with an online modular structure consisting of six modules undertaken over a six-month period.

There will be two opportunities within the calendar year when you will be invited to register for the Learning Pathway. You should discuss with your line manager if you are able to participate in the Learning Pathway. Participation will require you to commit to a minimum of 4 hours of learning per month.

More information can be found on Turas Learn or by contacting


NES Pharmacy delivers two foundation level leaderships courses ‘A taste of Leadership’ and ‘Develop Self Others and Service (SOS)’ and one advanced level leadership course ‘Taking the vision forward’. 

Find out more about our leadership courses and pathways here or by contacting

The Scottish Pharmacy Clinical Leadership Fellows scheme (SPCLF), which was launched in 2018, aims to support future pharmacy leaders and take forward strategic objectives to improve the pharmaceutical care of patients in Scotland. Find out more about the SPCLF programme on the Scottish Pharmacy Clinical Leadership Fellows page.

Related documents

Pharmacist career framework review - report of the review advisory group September 2020 [PDF]

Contact us

For questions and support queries:

Whistleblowing Standards

The National Whistleblowing Standards set out how the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (INWO) expects all NHS service providers to handle concerns that are raised with them and which meet the definition of a ‘whistleblowing concern’. 

Whistleblowing is defined in the Standards as when a person ‘raises a concern that relates to speaking up, in the public interest, about an NHS service, where an act or omission has created, or may create, a risk of harm or wrong-doing'.  

NES supports a culture where speaking up is encouraged.  Any employee (former or current), bank or agency worker, contractor, trainee, student, volunteer or those engaging with our services can raise a whistleblowing concern. 

We want everyone to feel comfortable raising issues of concern and confident that those issues will be investigated fully and impartially.  Nobody will be unfairly treated for raising a concern, for having a whistleblowing allegation made against them or for cooperating with any investigation.  

For more information on Whistleblowing please contact or refer to the NES Feedback, Complaints and Whistleblowing section at

Last updated: 27/09/2020

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