Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

English language testing is a good thing

I support the plans for the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to test pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from the European Economic Area (EEA) on their levels of English.

Having read the consultation from the Department of Health, it is important to note that the level of English required for doctors and dentists is defined as “a knowledge of English which, in the interests of the professional and their patients, is necessary for the practice of the profession in the UK” and that this will apply to both UK and EEA pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

What is interesting here is how the level of English will actually be tested for UK pharmacists given that most of them will have studied and completed their pre-registration training in the UK. Will the “signing off” of the pre-registration performance standard B1.1 — communicate effectively in English — not be enough? If this is the case then there would be no need for the GPhC to undertake any assessment of language given that the pre-registration tutors will have already done this at the point of registration.

Currently, for non-EEA applicants, the GPhC only accepts the International English language testing system (IELTS) and requires a minimum level of 7 in every category of the same sitting of the academic IELTS. The new plans will bring EEA applicants into line.

Most of us can say that we have seen pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from within the EEA who do not have the right standard of English to be working in the UK. This is a harsh but true reality. There are plenty of examples that we could collectively come up with, like a simple mistake of mispronouncing a drug name, which is an obvious risk to patient safety. Where pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have a poor standard of English, they are unable to communicate effectively with patients and prescribers causing unnecessary confusion. This is not an acceptable way of working within such an area of healthcare where lives could easily be put at risk from something as simple as not reading one word correctly.

Making the assessment of English language proficiency consistent for all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will bring us into line with other healthcare professions and will allow the GPhC to regulate language skills in the interests of the patient and the public.

This can only be a good thing for the profession.


Aamer Safdar



Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20067383

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • English Delftware Drug Jars

    English Delftware Drug Jars

    This beautiful book illustrates the art and history of the collection of English delftware drug jars in the Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

    £54.00Buy now
  • Workplace Drug Testing

    Workplace Drug Testing

    Explains drug testing regulatory frameworks and all aspects of drug analysis. Case studies of successful programmes are included.

    £81.00Buy now
  • Good Pharmacovigilance Practice Guide

    Good Pharmacovigilance Practice Guide

    An essential guide on pharmacovigilance of medicinal products for human use. Practical advice for developing effective pharmacovigilance systems.

    £38.00Buy now
  • Handbook of Extemporaneous Preparation

    Handbook of Extemporaneous Preparation

    Handbook of Extemporaneous Preparation is a comprehensive and easy-to-follow guide to good practice in extemporaneous compounding.

    £48.00Buy now
  • Suppositories


    A detailed review of suppository dosage forms. For all those involved in the formulation, development, manufacture and testing of suppositories.

    £71.00Buy now
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.