The assessment will not take place in the first two weeks of January, and although the GPhC has not yet identified an “exact date” for the exam, it has now found a “preferred supplier”.
The regulator will collaborate with the supplier to set a date, GPhC director of education and standards Mark Voce said in an update to candidates yesterday (September 30).
The regulator will work with its appointed supplier to decide “how and when to start the application process, adjustment arrangements and the assessment specification”, Mr Voce added.
Candidates can expect further updates later this month, he said.
“Earliest feasible time”
Mr Voce apologised to the graduates who wished to sit the exam at an earlier date.
“This is the earliest feasible time to hold the assessment, as we need to carry out extensive testing to make sure that the online registration assessment will work well for all candidates,” he said.
The GPhC – which is currently in “contractual discussions” with the provider it has identified – will need to test its systems for “verifying identity, invigilating the sitting and providing adjustments to candidates”, Mr Voce added
More information on the assessment will be shared with candidates “as soon as it is available, including through a webinar”.
Provisionally registered pharmacists and pre-registration trainees were encouraged to look at “the example questions and learning points from previous sittings” as the topics in the exam and the standards required to pass will remain the same.
The GPhC’s announcement generated mixed feelings on social media, with some arguing that the exam should be scrapped altogether.
6 months working as pharmacists to then say we need to sit an exam to determine our competence. You’ve considered us safe to practice when we were needed during COVID and flu season, but still think an exam is necessary. What time to do we have while working 40 hours a week?— Gabrielle (@GabrielleGopie) September 30, 2020
Please cancel the assessment. Remember the old days there was no registration assessment, and those pharmacists in the past are now pharmacy inspectors or holding other management positions. Dose it make any sense?— James Carter (@JamesCa60260463) September 30, 2020
Others said the exam is needed to maintain professional standards and that the 2021 exam date gives candidates plenty of time to prepare.
This isn't about what provregs deserve. The GPhC are here to protect the public and patients by ensuring that registrants are safe to practice. Part of this is ensuring the software for the exam is up to scratch to ensure integrity.— Anne Downing (@AnneCDowning) September 30, 2020
Fantastic news. 3-4 months notice is plenty. They have even longer to prepare— Mitesh Patel (@Mitesh_Patel) September 30, 2020
Commenting on the GPhC’s update, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director of education Gail Fleming said that “it’s very disappointing that after all this time, the GPhC is still unable to provide trainees with a definite date for the delayed assessment".
"We urge the GPhC to act quickly to set an exact date to provide certainty to those who will be sitting the exam," she 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.
Following a request for an update on the registration assessment from the RPS and the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association last month (September 18), the GPhC responded that it was unable to confirm an exact date for the exam until it had appointed a provider.
There are more than 2,200 people on the GPhC’s provisional register. In order to remain on the register, they will have to pass the registration assessment “at the first opportunity if they are fit to do so”.