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GPhC says June registration assessment 'remains on track'

Preparations for the registration assessment later this month are “on track”, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) director of education and standards Mark Voce has said.

It comes after last June’s registration assessment sparked protests from trainee pharmacists following an exam mired in chaos and controversy.

 

Read more: IT issues, cheating and uninformed invigilators: pharmacist trainees detail GPhC exam chaos

 

But speaking at the GPhC’s council meeting held yesterday (June 8) in Bloomsbury, London, Mr Voce assured the council that “all preparations remain on track” for the assessment due to take place on June 27.

 

The GPhC’s assessment team has visited all the “non-permanent” exam centres “to make sure they are up-to-scratch”, he said, adding that they had all met the requirements set out by the regulator.

 

 

“No issues”

 

 

Mr Voce told the council that all the exam bookings had been completed and candidates had been allocated to their test centres.

 

This, he said, “went smoothly” and there were “no issues of capacity or concerns around that”.

 

Read more: The GPhC exam protest as it happened

 

Mr Voce said that the GPhC was following the same process that it used for the November assessment, but now had “greater control of the process”.

 

“That's worked well, so we’ve had no issues arising out of that,” he added.

 

And he told the council that the regulator has “identified GPhC representatives for all the test centres” and is in “the last stages” of allocating them.

 

Read more: 'People’s lives have been affected': Trainees on the impact of GPhC exam chaos

 

“The team remains in daily and weekly contact with the suppliers and the spaces,” he said.

 

In terms of the exam papers themselves, Mr Voce said that “all the work relating to the quality assurance for the actual papers with the formal assessors has progressed well”.

 

“That's all on track as well,” he added.

 

 

Exam chaos

 

 

Last year’s June assessment chaos led candidates to stage a historic protest outside the GPhC’s Canary Wharf offices in July.

Trainees issued a list of four demands to the GPhC after some reported “loud, distracting noises” in the exam halls, exam halls that reportedly allowed easy cheating, and incompetent invigilators, among other complaints. 

 

Read more: ‘This will go down in history’: Five takeaways from the GPhC exam protest

 

The regulator ultimately acceded to two of the trainee’s four demands, agreeing to a 12-month extension on the time limit to sit and pass the registration exam after beginning pharmacist training “for all candidates who experienced [exam] delays or disruption”. 

 

The regulator’s chief executive Duncan Rudkin said at the time that the GPhC would “get to the bottom of the root causes” to ensure future candidates do not face similar issues.

 

Affected students were also offered a refund.

 

 

“Considerable changes”

 

 

Meanwhile, the GPhC reported "no major issues" following its November registration assessment, after it made “considerable changes” to the way the online exam was run.

 

However, it said that “individual candidates” did experience some “incidents” that it would review.

 

Read more: Plain sailing for November registration exam after ‘considerable changes’

 

The changes included stationing a representative at every test centre the day before and on the day of the assessment and ensuring each centre “was a permanent venue, with computer equipment already in place”.

The regulator also tested out IT, provided “enhanced” IT support during the exam, and carried out “enhanced invigilator training” after June candidates complained that some invigilators were “clueless”.

Read more: Five things the GPhC is doing to prevent registration exam chaos in November

In August, the GPhC and exam provider BTL met for a two-day meeting to plan what measures could be put in place to ensure the assessment went smoothly.

But the regulator announced in December that just 56% of candidates passed the November 2022 online registration assessment.

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