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GPhC one step closer to announcing new pre-reg exam date

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is planning to reveal the date of the postponed registration exam “by [the] end of November”, C+D has learned.

Provisionally registered pharmacists, pre-registration trainees and those resitting the exam are likely to receive another update from the GPhC shortly, detailing the date – or dates – for the online exam, the regulator told C+D yesterday (November 18).

The 2020 registration exams have been put on hold so far due to the logistical challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will announce the date(s) for the sitting in the first quarter of 2021 by the end of November, so candidates can prepare and arrange relevant study time around current work or other commitments,” GPhC director of education and standards Mark Voce told C+D.

It comes as the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association asked the GPhC last month (October 7) to share the exam rubric by the end of November.

In October, the GPhC said that the registration exam will be held in the first quarter of 2021, avoiding the first two weeks of January. 

Two-months’ notice

In May, the regulator said it would give candidates a minimum of two-months’ notice to prepare for the assessment.

However, it said in September that it could not communicate an exact date for the assessment until it had appointed a supplier. Earlier this month (November 6), the GPhC announced that it had selected Pearson VUE – the “global leader in computer-based testing” – to deliver its online registration assessments from next year.

“We are confident that together we can hold online assessment sittings that give candidates a robust and fair test opportunity to demonstrate their ability to apply their skills and knowledge,” Mr Voce told C+D.

Short notice?

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) said in an update to its members yesterday that, from November 18, the GPhC could announce that the exam will be held “in two-months’ time”.

The organisation raised concerns that “such a short time frame makes the planning of study and revision leave a bigger challenge for employers, provisionally registered pharmacists and re-sitters, but it is essential”.

It added that its members have claimed that “their employers are suggesting that approving leave for exam preparation will be more difficult due to the pandemic workload”.

“The PDA believes the whole sector should be supporting the cohort to have a fair chance of passing their exam,” it added in the statement.

Provisionally registered pharmacists – 2,583 in total on the provisional register as of November 15 – need to pass the GPhC registration exam in order to remain on the register – despite being able to practise in order to help with pharmacy’s COVID-19 effort.

If pharmacists in this cohort fail, “that could mean hundreds of pharmacists disappear from the profession at the height of the vaccination programme during the second wave of the pandemic”, the PDA said.

“The PDA is reiterating our call for all employers to ensure that the 2020 cohort, many of whom have worked throughout the pandemic, are given the time off for study and revision that they need,” it added.

On March 26, the GPhC announced that it had decided to postpone the 2020 registration assessments due to COVID-19. In May, it told C+D that the pandemic had accelerated existing plans to move to an online registration assessment.

Do you think provisionally-registered pharmacists should still have to take the registration exam? Register for free and join the Big Debate tonight at 7pm on C+D’s Community platform

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