More confusion and yet a sudden surge in last minute sign-ups for flu training among UK pharmacists: Unraveling the trend
As we approach the flu season, there has been a noticeable surge in the number of UK pharmacists signing up for flu training despite the continued confusion and changes with service requirements. In this blog post, we sit down with Health Academy’s business manager, Ruth Miles, to explore the reasons behind the confusion and last minute trend.
Why has there been so much confusion?
In August 2022, NHS England released the service specification for the pharmacy flu service, introducing a significant alteration to the training requirements. The change primarily pertained to the recommended frequency of updates. A detailed account of these modifications can be found in this blog post. In essence, the service specification adopted a less directly prescriptive approach and instead directed attention towards the national guidelines for immunisation training and basic life support training.
According to Ruth Miles, the change in wording made some pharmacists think they needed to update their flu training less often when, in-fact, the opposite is true if the national guidelines are to be followed correctly.
Actually the recommendations for updating are more straightforward!
The reality is that in comparison to other clinical skills, the guidelines for updating immunisation training are particularly explicit. Ruth explains that for skills like immunisation and basic life support, annual updates are unequivocally recommended. This clarity in the guidelines should leave little room for ambiguity or hesitation, and this may be what is motivating pharmacists to prioritise their flu training this year.
“By investing in regular training, pharmacists can ensure they are delivering the most up-to-date and evidence-based care to their patients, earning their trust and loyalty in the process. They can also demonstrate that they are updating in line with national recommendations”.
Even more changes…and perhaps a reminder…
The recent publication of flu service specifications, with yet more changes, as discussed in this Community Pharmacy England blog post, may have potentially triggered an interesting response within the pharmacist community. Ruth postulates that, with the announcement that the service commencement will be delayed until October – though pharmacies who have planned vaccinations in September will be able to go ahead with those – it is conceivable that this delay could have served as a subtle nudge for pharmacists to reconsider their flu vaccination training.
“With the reminder of the impending release of the service specifications, it is possible that pharmacists could have been prompted to proactively refresh and enhance their knowledge and skills in preparation for the season ahead”.
During the interview, I asked Ruth about the recent response to the flu training courses and inquired if Health Academy plans to put on extra dates to accommodate more demand.
Ruth responds, “This late enthusiasm in the uptake of our flu training courses has indeed been encouraging, and we are delighted to witness such a positive reception from pharmacists across the UK. We have already added a few extra sessions for our Zoom training. This is an extremely busy period for our instructors across the UK, so our schedule is fairly packed. However, if any organisation or group of pharmacists are in need of flu training but can’t find suitable availability in our existing schedule, we encourage them to get in touch with us directly. While it may not always be possible to arrange additional dates, we will make every effort to explore alternatives or find a solution that best serves their requirements”.
Commitment to UK pharmacists
Health Academy stands as a reliable partner for pharmacists seeking comprehensive flu training in their roles as immunisation advocates and healthcare providers. As more professionals recognise the importance of staying updated and informed, Health Academy continues to support the growth and success of UK pharmacists in safeguarding public health during the flu season and beyond.