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Brexit will not impact language test plans in the short term

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It would be "unhelpful to speculate" how Brexit could affect the plans, says the GPhC

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) will have no immediate impact on plans to check the language skills of pharmacists from outside of the UK, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said.

The regulator can currently only check the language skills of non-European pharmacists by asking for evidence that they passed an internationally recognised exam.

Last year, it called for an extension of its powers to check the English language competence of pharmacists and technicians from the European Economic Area (EEA).

Under the plans, European pharmacists coming to the UK would have to provide evidence of passing an English language test; completing a pharmacy degree in English; or having recently practised in an English-speaking country for at least two years, the GPhC said.

It would be “unhelpful to speculate” how Brexit will change these proposals, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin told C+D on Monday (September 12).

The regulator hopes to enforce the requirements in late November, after they have been approved by parliament, it said in papers released ahead of its council meeting last week.

The controls, which were proposed last year, would also allow the regulator to investigate pharmacists’ fitness to practise if their language skills pose a serious risk to patient safety”.

Mr Rudkin said the impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU on its plans will be unclear until Brexit is brought into effect. “The law is the law… we are following that with this topic, as with every other,” Mr Rudkin said. “[After Brexit is implemented] we will bring forward and explain whatever changes we may need to make.”

The onus will “remain very clearly” on employers to ensure their staff can communicate properly with patients when the new rules are enforced, he added.

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