The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) would be open to the prospect of making changes to the registration assessment, Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, has said.
Speaking to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 14 December 2020, following the GPhC’s approval of new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists, Rudkin said that discussions over the next year and beyond were “inevitably going to have to look at what is the right timing and method for the council to get that overall final confirmation and assurance for registration purposes. It seems to me it would be very odd if the registration assessment were taken as the only, immutable fixed point”.
Rudkin added that the GPhC will “need to work with our partners to look at all aspects of quality assurance, including regulatory quality assurance. So I think it fits within that umbrella to look at the exam in terms of where it is located in the sequence of events”.
Trainee pharmacists currently sit the registration assessment at the end of their preregistration year, but from 2021 the preregistration year will be replaced by a foundation year. From 2025, foundation year trainees will be given independendent prescribing training to enable “simultaneous registration and annotation” as an independent prescriber.
If changes were made, the GPhC would want to ensure that “what’s put in place is better than what we have now. We have a rigorous quality-assured exam in place, but it will need to evolve, as it has evolved over time: including, most recently, in 2016,” Rudkin added.
The regulator has also said it expects that the delayed summer 2020 preregistration assessment for provisionally registered pharmacists, scheduled for 17 and 18 March 2021, will go ahead as planned.
In a statement published on 8 January 2021, the GPhC said that Pearson Vue — the provider of the sites where the assessment will take place — “has confirmed their centres will remain open for essential healthcare examinations such as the registration assessment even if we are still in national lockdowns in March”.
The regulator is “very aware of the significant stress and pressures that candidates have experienced during the pandemic”, it said.
But it added that it considers the assessment to be an “essential step towards full registration” and that it was “not feasible to introduce alternative routes to registration for provisionally registered pharmacists that would uphold standards, protect patient safety and be fair to all candidates”.
The GPhC emphasised that candidates had the option to sit the exam in summer 2021 if they felt that they were not “fit to sit” it in March. It added that candidates may decide that they are not fit to sit because of the “impact that the pandemic has had on their health and wellbeing, or on their ability to prepare adequately for the assessment because of pressures at work or caring responsibilities at home”.
Provisional registration will continue until the summer, it confirmed.
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