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GPhC: Prov-regs cannot act as RPs for pharmacy COVID-19 vax service

GPhC: Prov-regs could help the national vaccination effort by taking on other roles
GPhC: Prov-regs could help the national vaccination effort by taking on other roles

Provisionally-registered pharmacists must not act as responsible pharmacists (RPs) for the pharmacy-led COVID-19 vaccination sites, the GPhC has stipulated.

It is not “appropriate” for prov-regs to act as RPs for the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine service, as they have yet to pass the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) registration exam and must “practise under the guidance and direction of a senior pharmacist”, the GPhC said in council papers ahead of a meeting last week (January 8).

The regulator "formally ratified" its proposal last week.

Appointing prov-regs to cover this “difficult and complex role… could have implications for patient safety”, as prov-regs “lack experience”, the GPhC added.

“Being an RP for the programme would involve considerable legal, regulatory and professional responsibilities,” which means more experienced pharmacists are more suitable for this role, the GPhC wrote in its papers.

Last year, the GPhC decided that prov-regs “may operate as responsible pharmacists”. However, the regulator specified in this month’s council papers that when that policy was introduced in May, “there was no discussion or information available about the delivery of a potential vaccine”, nor that prov-regs might be expected to act as RPs to lead a COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Focus on registration assessment

Prov-regs “can play a valuable part” in the vaccination programme by taking on other roles under the supervision of experienced healthcare professionals, the GPhC added.

However, they would find it challenging to be held responsible and accountable for leading the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination service while preparing for the registration assessment, which will go ahead as planned on March 17-18, it said.

Following the announcement on Monday (January 4) of a third lockdown in England – which is expected to last until the middle of February – several prov-regs and pharmacists took to social media to ask the GPhC to reschedule or scrap the registration assessment.

Others expressed concerns about travelling to the Pearson VUE test centres, where the GPhC will hold its online registration exams this year.

However, the GPhC shared an update with candidates on Tuesday evening, in which it said that it had received confirmation from Pearson VUE that their centres would remain open for “health regulation examinations” during the lockdown.

It specified on its website that candidates who are shielding or have concerns about sitting the exam at one of the test centres “can apply for a reasonable adjustment to sit the online assessment remotely”.

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