§ Mr. Laurence Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to increase the numbers of people training as pharmacists; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what discussions he has had with companies about the training of pharmacists; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 7 March 2002]There has been a significant increase in pharmacy student intakes over recent years, with 27 per cent. more new students starting their training in 2000 than in 1993. This points to a significant medium-term growth in the pharmacy work force, despite the change to a 4-year undergraduate course in 1997. Full figures are not yet available from the Pharmaceutical Society for 2001 as returns are still awaited from two schools of pharmacy. Work force modelling undertaken by the Department suggests that there will be a 12 per cent. increase in the pharmacy work force across the National Health Service and private sector between 1998 and 2003.
The Department has regular contact with a range of organisations with an interest in pharmacy, to discuss training issues.