All preregistration pharmacists on the provisional register must be risk-assessed by their employer before they can start work, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.
The regulator — which has created the register, following the postponement of the 2020 registration assessments because of the COVID-19 pandemic — said in a policy document that the owner of the pharmacy where the trainee will work, or the superintendent or chief pharmacist, must assess the registrant’s experience; the work that is carried out in the pharmacy where they will practise; and the “number and qualifications” of other members of the pharmacy team before they can start working.
The GPhC added that the provisional registration of pharmacists will last for one year, from 1 July 2020 until 1 July 2021, and that pharmacists registered in this way must take the registration assessment as soon as it is possible.
Those who have previously failed the assessment will not be allowed to join the provisional register.
Trainees can apply to join the register from July 2020 and begin working from 1 August 2020. The regulator has said it will not extend the provisional registration period.
Under the new arrangements, tutors of preregistration pharmacists will be asked to provide a “final declaration” that their trainees have met all 76 performance standards and that they believe the trainee is safe to be registered.
In their declaration, the tutors must also confirm that another registered pharmacist or other healthcare professional, who has been involved in the preregistration pharmacist’s training, agrees that they are fit to practise.
Other conditions placed on the provisional registration of pharmacists include that they can only practise for an organisation that has a superintendent or chief pharmacist, or is owned by a pharmacist; and that they can only work under the guidance of a “senior pharmacist”, who must either be the superintendent pharmacist; chief pharmacist; pharmacy owner; or a pharmacist with two years’ experience that has been nominated by one of those listed.
Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said the regulator had “balanced risks and benefits” when deciding the form that provisional registration would take.
The GPhC announced on 26 March 2020 that it would be postponing the registration assessments planned for June and September 2020.
Gail Fleming, director for education at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “In line with our views on Foundation Pharmacist training, we believe that all pharmacists new to the register should have access to structured support and guidance from within the profession and therefore we welcome the requirement for this.”
Regan McCahill, president of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA), said: “In the primary care sector, we are concerned that some employers may be reluctant to employ a provisionally registered pharmacist, due to a lack of security in their ability to continue in their role beyond the assessment date, a date which nobody yet knows”.
Other BPSA concerns were that some employers, such as primary care networks, may not have a chief or superintendent pharmacist, which is a prerequisite for employing provisionally registered pharmacists.
Khalid Khan, head of training and professional standards at Imaan Healthcare, said the GPhC’s decision that provisionally registered pharmacists could act as Responsible Pharmacists means that many hundreds of extra pharmacists should be able to find jobs.
Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), welcomed the GPhC’s announcement, but said the big test would come when provisionally registered pharmacists began to work.
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