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Coronavirus: Nearly 6,000 could rejoin GPhC register in an emergency

Pharmacy staff could be re-registered by the GPhC if an "emergency is declared” by the health secretary
Pharmacy staff could be re-registered by the GPhC if an "emergency is declared” by the health secretary

The GPhC could grant temporary registration to 5,800 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians no longer on its register if an emergency is declared during the coronavirus outbreak.

A policy on the temporary registration of pharmacy professionals was agreed by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) members at a council meeting yesterday (March 12).

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who were voluntarily removed from the GPhC register or who did not renewed their registration will be re-registered on a “temporary basis if an emergency is declared by the secretary of state”, the GPhC said.

Employers will be responsible for ensuring that any re-joiners they hire have the right competency and skills required for their role, the GPhC agreed at the meeting yesterday.

The regulator reviewed its policy following the UK government’s action plan on coronavirus, which outlines that healthcare professionals who have retired or “left their roles” could return to them “to alleviate pressures and contribute to providing essential services”.

Phased registration

The policy, which the GPhC made public earlier this week (March 9), states that temporary registration “will be done in phases, which may be combined depending on the scale of the emergency and the pharmacy services required”.

An estimated 2,700 pharmacists and 1,300 pharmacy technicians could be re-registered as part of the first phase, the GPhC said.

These numbers are based on the regulator concluding that those who can rejoin the register need to have at least two years’ recent practice experience.

A further 900 pharmacists and 900 pharmacy technicians would be added during phase two “using the same timeframe”, the regulator said.

In case of rising demand for more pharmacy staff to receive temporary registration “in an emergency”, the GPhC could also consider those who “have demonstrated many, but not all, of the required knowledge and skills or who have less recent experience of pharmacy practice”, it said.

Voluntary basis

The regulator specified it does not have “the powers to require people who are temporarily registered to return to practice”, leaving the choice to each professional, who “would be doing so on a voluntary basis to help their community”.

“On declaration of emergency we will enact the policy by publishing the temporary register on our website, enabling the individuals themselves and employers to check eligibility,” the GPhC said.

The regulator has powers to “temporarily register premises” under emergency circumstances, but it said that “at this stage, there are no indications that additional premises may be necessary”. However, it added that the situation will be monitored.

Last week, the GPhC told C+D it could suspend inspections if the coronavirus outbreak worsens. The regulator will take coronavirus into account if concerns are raised against registered professionals where the virus is a factor.

What do you make of the GPhC's policy announcement?

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

As regards a ' call to arms' . No.The juice ain't worth the squeeze.

David Sarabowski, Locum pharmacist

I retired at the end of 2018, so 15 months ago. After 40 years practise I still feel capable of providing a competent pharmaceutical service with a minimal amount of re-training, mainly in the IT department. I do not want to return to work, but in the face of the national emergency we are all facing, I feel disappointed to read the responses of others on this page, and I would be deeply ashamed of myself if I refused to help wherever I was needed. 

Am I really in a minority of one in the retired pharmacist community?

Keith Mitchell, Community pharmacist

Don't beat yourself up about this. Any half-decent pharmacy should have a robust contingency plan to cover such things as flood, pandemics etc. which I presume would include a list of staff to call upon in such an emergency. So if you aren't on such a list do like the rest of us 60-somethings sit back and enjoy your retirement. Let the GPh.C earn their money and sort it out.

Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

How could retiree's return anyway. Community pharmacy has made itself so electronically complicated and dependant now , a retiree even if wanted to do job couldn't. Fulfilling paper walk in prescriptions were easy but now going in and out of the "spine" , reconconfirming etc etc pfffffff. Plus still expected to do MUR's by any chance lol????

R G, Pharmacist Director

GPhC were never there to help registered colleagues before. Most retirees would be looked upon as a danger anyway. No way back to register. Happy to help in any other way (off register).

Martin Jones, Community pharmacist

This is a really interesting thread. I've spent most of my career in IT, but am still on the register. I've been mulling on the current situation and our professional responsibility. I haven’t dispensed a prescription for twenty years. My last locum was for a supermarket chain on a Saturday and the promised staff simply weren’t there - helluva day and it completely put me off. Nonetheless, if we are in a “keeping the lights on” situation, I would be prepared to consider pitching in to help. This would be on a “keeping the supply side going” basis; no services, no daft hoops and a sensible payment. Interested to see how this develops. It would be helpful if the GPhC starts the conversation by treating us with a little more respect.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Hmmm some people may want a premium rate to work in these circumstances......

Dave Downham, Manager

Unlike you to be so mercenary...

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

Glad I'm away from all that nonsense patient-facing role; putting up with all that abuse from the public, politicians, employers and regulators, whilst risking your own health and sanity.

Working from home 5 days a week is the life.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Time to reinstate the ones GPhC struck off for silly reasons like 'signing back of scripts'. 

Keith Mitchell, Community pharmacist

Yes, that's my real name.

I "voluntarily removed"myself from the register three years ago. (No I wasn't struck off, even though it felt like it).

I very much doubt that I'll be returning to the "profession" any time soon, because:

1, There isn't a pay packet big enough to tempt me back into a consulting room. 

2. I don't want to have to jump through all the ridiculous hoops that the wonderful GPh.C will put in my way (huge registration fees, CPD, revalidation etc). Not to mention indemnity insurance.

3, Nobody wanted me to work for them three years ago, so why should they want me now?

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

Absolutely bang on.  I  left the register voluntarily at the end of 2019. Never for a millisecond have I regretted it. They can do one. I wonder , further down the line, if the beautiful rinky dinky tablets in their bespoke cartons become scarce  a demand for the long lost manipulative skills us oldsters were brought up on is revived.

SydBashford Sold&Retired&DeRegistered, Community pharmacist

Sooooo excited.... can't wait to rejoin.... wonderful opportunity granted to me.... how thoughtful of the GPHC... I'm jumping in anticipation... I'm coming back, I'm coming back..... (NOT!)

Angry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

You want to create an efficient workforce ?   Well increase staffing levels, get rid of FMD, pay a decent salary to dispensers (not minimum wage), increase locum/pharmacist salaries. Look at the welfare of pharmacy staff, how can we manage this pandemic safely without endangering ourselves and our families!!


Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

I'm sorry, but none of this will happen.

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

This is the dream!!! Vote you in for PSNC chief!

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

What a great idea . Come back to our new cosy consulting room where you have less than 2m between you and the patient . The conversation starts off with their symptoms that they want to discuss and then they start coughing . You realise they are a corono victim and they now might have possibly infected you . Having retired because you were of a certain age you are now more likely to die from this infection . You will also help out the governments financial problems as they will save on your state pension and as an added bonus death duties . This will no doubt appeal to retired GP's as well. The pharmacy owner will now have to close the pharmacy as everyone will have to self isolate for 7 days. We now need to pause FMD scanning to free up time ,and not to use the consulting room to protect the pharmacists. Let patients have a telephone consultation like the GP'S are doing .





Anant Bhogaita, Locum pharmacist

Can't imagine they will have many ex-pharmacists take up the offer to re-join considering how stressful and unrewarding the job is. I'm now earning an hourly rate which I earnt back in 2000. A drop in real terms when you take the increase in cost of living into consideration. On top of that, the workload has mushroomed out of control by funding cuts, low staffing and NHS and patient demands, and introduction of new services.  In fact,  I belief more will reduce their working hours or retire early when the pandemic goes into full swing.

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

In my opinion, most of those who volunterily left the register did so due to the stress and chaos in the current community pharmacy sector brought in by never ending funding cuts. So, why would someone voluntarily comeback when there is more chaos?? 

One solution may be to move all the so called Clinical Pharmacists/ GP Pharmacists/ CCG Pharmacists/ Any other registered Pharmacists working in a community sector other than a community Pharmacy, to be asked to do a minimum 30 hours a week in a community Pharmacy. Then we will know how keen these bunch of people are to help the NHS and the public in general.

Z H, Hospital pharmacist

Your comment is the most absurd thing I've read this week. Exactly what do you think hospital pharmacists are doing on acute/intensive wards surrounded by Covid-19 patients trying to sort out their regular medicines so they don't have a fit/parkinson's trough/psychotic episode whilst they battle the virus? These 'so-called pharmacists' you refer to are also the ones working round the clock with specialists trying to devise management guidelines and source antivirals so that when you or one of your loved ones presents to hospital with this disease, you have the reassurance and benefit of receiving some sort of evidence-based treatment. The sheer ignorance of your comment is a discredit to the profession, a CPD entry or two on pharmacy disciplines wouldn't go amiss.

Hackney Drug Dealer, Community pharmacist

'' The sheer ignorance of your comment is a discredit to the profession, a CPD entry or two on pharmacy disciplines wouldn't go amiss.'' ((Agreed, but for the replied comment made not the commented upon view)). 

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Lol ZH the irony of your comments, especially the last sentence sent me chuckling.

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

"""Pharmacists working in a community sector other than a community Pharmacy,"""

I think I was very clear in my comments. But then, some people just want to jump in to conclusions.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

As a hospital pharmacist, I would have thought you would pay attention to detail and realise he didn't mention hospital pharmacists. 

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

The comment above did not say hospital pharmacists - no one would suggest for one minute that hospital pharmacists should be moved into community pharmacies!

Hackney Drug Dealer, Community pharmacist

Now THAT would be dangerous. Removing Shipman restrictions to commnity pharmacy and prescribers is one things, but moving professionals cross-sector from hospital - that would be dangerous (and that's without Shipman restriction removals alone). As Abrahams, Zucker & Zucker aptly pointed out in Airplane '' This patient has to be gotten to a Hospital'' reply1 'A HOSPITAL, WHAT IS IT?' reply back ''It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now''

A N, Community pharmacist

cant agree more. struggling to keep doors open whilst pharmacists and technicians working next door, safely, making sure they dont have to actually meet patients 

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

I was a community locum until the end of 2019.  In the eyes of the profession I was held in less esteem than a sewer rat so I cannot imagine that I would be welcomed back even if I wished to return.  Add to this the abuse from the general public due to medicines shortages, the stress of working with fewer and fewer staff members whilst being expected to do more and more work and services.  Quite frankly I have no goodwill left!

I note that the GPhC does not have the power to require us to return to work!  Just as well!

C A, Community pharmacist

The GPhC wouldprobably also want money off you for returning to the register...

Dee dee, Community pharmacist

Who on earth would think that those whom happily left the register, gladly leaving behind an utterly loathsome job would come back in the midst of a viral pandemic, leaving themselves wide open to danger?
This is fanciful in the extreme. I'm registered and a Locum and I plan on going nowhere near any community pharmacy until this is over. Why would I? I've been treated as expendable by multiples and governments for the greater part of a decade. Don't get me started on the public. 
Thanks but no thanks. 







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