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Provisionally registered pharmacists report being barred from bank pharmacy work

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has said reports are coming in of NHS Professionals blocking provisionally registered pharmacists from working as bank pharmacists in hospital trusts.

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Guidance by the General Pharmaceutical Council states that a provisional registrant is allowed to work as a “relief or bank pharmacist within the organisation or business” that they are employed

Provisionally registered pharmacists report being barred by NHS Professionals from working as bank pharmacists in hospital trusts, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has said.

NHS Professionals — a government-owned temporary staff bank for NHS trusts — provides flexible workforce services by 130,000 healthcare professionals across 50 trusts.

The PDA said in a statement on 7 October 2020 that it has “been approached by provisionally registered members who report that they have been blocked by NHS Professionals from acting as bank pharmacists”.

It added that the ban was in place “when the work in question is not only within the NHS organisation, but is even at their own trust, where they are employed and practising”.

Under guidance issued by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) in July 2020, a provisional registrant is allowed to work as a “relief or bank pharmacist within the organisation or business” that they are employed. They are not allowed to work as a locum pharmacist.

The guidance said this was to ensure “that your employer meets their requirements, such [as] carrying out a risk assessment before you can start work, and that there are arrangements in place to provide you with the structured support you need to practise safely, and to assure patient safety”.

The GPhC added in a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal that the guidance “sets out that people may work as relief or bank pharmacists provided the mandatory patient safety and support requirements are met”.

“It is for each organisation or business to decide whether they are able to meet the necessary requirements before employing a provisional registrant,” it said.

The regulator went on to say that it would “engage further with NHS Professionals or other organisations if they require further advice on the provisional registration scheme”.

The PDA said NHS Professionals had responded to its concerns, saying the workforce service “would not be able to ensure that a provisionally registered pharmacist is employed directly by the organisation or business which they are working for or practising under the guidance and direction of a senior pharmacist”.

Therefore, NHS Professionals “does not feel it can make assurances that the requirements outlined in that section [of GPhC guidance] are possible”.

A spokesperson for NHS Professionals clarified to The Pharmaceutical Journal that it would not directly employ a provisionally registered pharmacist if they were not already substantively employed by a client trust. 

But the spokesperson added that “if a provisionally registered pharmacist wants to work at the trust where they are substantively employed, NHS Professionals can facilitate this if the trust is a client of NHS Professionals”.

“In this case, a provisionally registered pharmacist will not be employed as a locum by NHS Professionals, but will be employed by the trust,” they said.

Pharmacists were provisionally registered with the GPhC in July 2020, following the postponement of the 2020 registration assessments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208433

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