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Temporary register to close in March, GPhC announces

Pharmacists on the temporary register will be automatically removed on April 1 unless they have applied to return to the permanent register, the regulator has said.

The General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) temporary register, opened as the COVID-19 pandemic bore down to add capacity to the UK health workforce, will close at the end of March 2024, the regulator announced last week (September 22).

According to the GPhC, the UK government had asked the regulator and “other relevant health professional regulators” to close temporary registers on March 31.

Read more: Temporary register extended for two years, GPhC confirms

It said that the government expects that the “emergency conditions” that prompted the temporary register “would no longer apply” after the coming winter.

Pharmacists or pharmacy technicians on the temporary register will have their registration automatically closed on April 1, unless they have applied to return to the permanent register with a “detailed portfolio”, the GPhC added.

 

Mass re-registration

 

The regulator opened the temporary register in March 2020 after then-health secretary Matt Hancock asked the GPhC to use its “emergency powers…to rapidly register pharmacy professionals to assist in the national response to the current emergency”. 

Under this emergency policy, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who had been voluntarily removed from the GPhC register or who did not renew their registration could be immediately re-registered.

Read more: GPhC survey: 46% on temporary register unsure about return to pharmacy

In March 2020, the GPhC re-registered 3,332 pharmacists and 2,909 pharmacy technicians. This allowed these former pharmacy professionals to return to work, as long as they had not faced fitness-to-practise (FtP) issues during the preceding three years.

Despite this mass re-registration, almost half of the temporarily registered pharmacy professionals were undecided about going back to work in the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the May 2020 results of a survey run by the GPhC.

Read more: COVID-19: GPhC temporarily registers over 3,000 former pharmacists

C+D reported in March last year that the GPhC was expecting the temporary register to close at the end of September 2022.

At the time, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin called on temporary registrants to apply to re-join the regulator’s main register if they wished to continue practicing after September 30.

But in September 2022, the GPhC extended the temporary register for two years, following a request from then-health secretary Thérèse Coffey to UK health regulators. 

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