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UK regulators postpone pre-reg exams over COVID-19 pandemic

GPhC and PSNI: The exams could be rescheduled for “the end of this year or early 2021”
GPhC and PSNI: The exams could be rescheduled for “the end of this year or early 2021”

The GPhC and the PSNI have decided to postpone all of this year’s registration assessments following the outbreak of COVID-19.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) registration assessments could be rescheduled for “the end of this year or early in 2021”, the regulators said in a joint statement published today (March 26).

The GPhC’s registration assessments normally take place in June and September, while the PSNI’s take place in June and October.

However, having consulted different representatives including “student and trainee representative bodies, universities, [and] employers”, the regulators acknowledged the “significant pressures that pre-registration trainees are currently working under”.

These pressures will have a “major impact” on trainees’ ability to prepare for the registration exams, they said in the joint statement.

Responding to the pandemic

“We also recognised that more pharmacists will be needed to help respond to the pandemic and deliver care to patients and the public in the coming months, and that pre-registration trainees are expecting to be able to register and work as pharmacists from August,” the GPhC and PSNI added.

The regulators are now exploring the option of granting a “form of provisional registration for current pre-registration trainees”, they said.

“We are carefully considering what options will be in the best interests of pre-registration trainees, pharmacy services and the general public, whilst protecting patient safety,” they added.

Questions on the potential options, how they would work in practice and what support would be in place for trainees" with be answered as soon an possible once the regulators work with their partners "on the approach [they] are taking".

Do you welcome the GPhC's and PSNI's decision?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

With the way the public are acting, if any do register before they have taken the exam, they may just decide not to bother taking it later, and to go and find a nice, quiet peaceful job! 

Conor M, Community pharmacist

That is certainly my plan lol

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

Why not devise an on line exam?

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

yes good idea , maybe send it day before in pdf format which can only be opened at a certain time on exam day , done on computer , then sent back after time up , this way takes out internet connection problems if done live , those not ready have the option to opt out and take at later date ?

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

My experience  of the pre reg exam is those who are good pharmacists fail and those who should'nt be pharmacists pass , we need to revert back to the system where your tutor signs you off . Everyone has had a tough time , pre regs need some sort of a break , i think they should scrap the exam this year and revert back to the tutor's decision.

sudan gurung, Pre-reg Pharmacist


John Lenzan, Locum pharmacist

This seems an illogical and irrational solution, leave aside the issues of legal and professional liability, imagine the pre-reg's position if after practising as a "Pharmacist" for x months they take and fail an exam. A fairer route would be to extend the current pre-reg year for x months until conditions improve or a system for remote exam supervision can be devised. 



sudan gurung, Pre-reg Pharmacist



Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

I have concerns about this idea too as it is indeed opening a can of worms.

Richard Grahame, Community pharmacist

This is utter lunacy.  Possibly the worst path they could have taken.  As I tutor I think it's really unfair.  My pre reg bates the idea.  As an employer what will insurance companies say about an error by a provisional registrant that makes an error and later goes on to fail the exam?  
No one is going to offer anyone in this situation any sort of job in my opinion.  I wouldn't.  This needs to be rethought and a different solution brought to the table.

Chris ., Community pharmacist

Employers will run hands. If they can register before exam they will take low wages and multiples will be delighted.

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