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Pre-regs may be 'temporarily redirected' to help with COVID-19 effort

Organisations said it is essential that systems are in place to support trainees and protect patients
Organisations said it is essential that systems are in place to support trainees and protect patients

As the COVID-19 outbreak gets worse, pre-registration pharmacists and pharmacy technicians may be required “to help with service provision”, Health Education England (HEE) has said

Pre-registration pharmacists and pharmacy technicians “may be required to offer assistance or support outside of their scheduled training pathways”, according to a joint letter by HEE, Health Protection Scotland and Public Health Wales.

This includes the possibility of being “temporarily redirected to duties where they have already demonstrated competency to help with service provision”, the letter said.

However, it is “essential that systems are in place to support trainees and protect patients”, and General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) guidance “should be followed by all current trainees”, the organisations added.

The letter also provides information for pregnant trainees, including outlining that “as pregnant trainees cannot see patients face to face, it is recommended efforts are made to support home working”.

The three organisations also addressed impact the COVID-19 outbreak may have on upcoming pre-registration exams. However, at the time of writing it has not yet been decided whether exam will go ahead.

The current guidance can be read in full on the letter, which is not dated. More information will be “shared as the situation develops”, it said.

PhSC: We must find a “suitable balance”

A “suitable balance” must be found between “assisting the national health initiative”, protecting the “health and careers” of students and providing a “competent and skilled workforce of pharmacists for the future”, the Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC) said in a statement on Monday (March 23).

Although pharmacy schools may act as “they see fit”, there has been a “common consensus that a clarifying statement would be useful on the specific issue of Year 3 and Year 4 MPharm students joining the workforce immediately”, the PhSC said.

The PhSC emphasised that trainees are “still studying” and that joining the workforce could mean they are unable to progress in their education “due to illness or lack of revision”.

Pre-reg exam decision

The GPhC wants to ensure it has “considered fully the implications” before making a decision on whether the June pre-registration exam will go ahead, chief executive Dunan Rudkin said today (March 25).

Pre-regs and tutors should “try as far as possible not to worry about what may happen with the registration assessment and to focus on the important role they are playing in supporting patients during the COVID-19 pandemic”, Mr Rudkin added.

The regulator expects it will be able to provide an update on the status of the exam early next week. The exam is due to take place on June 25.

Do you think pre-regs should join the workforce amid the COVID-19 effort?

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

Pre-regs are essentially an extra dispenser. Or they stack the shelves.

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

The BIG BOYS would ask a question -- If these people are out of the dispensary/ Pharmacy then who will help them stack shelves/ dispense/ all other jobs done by a properly hired dispenser/ technicians??

Conor M, Community pharmacist

I have no idea how my pharmacy would cope if I wasn't there currently

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

It is the sad reality of how community pharmacy has progressed. If there had been 2000 pharmacies shut down before this crisis, imagine the impact. There is a danger of exhaustion and closure of pharmacies without contracting anything. There are some members of the public ready to reach boiling point.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It's along the lines of every other profession out there at the moment. Nurses and Midwife students got instruction today along with Paramedics students.

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