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Watchdog receives ‘number of complaints’ about GPhC’s handling of exam

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The PSA cannot share details on the concerns because the review of the GPhC is “ongoing”
The PSA cannot share details on the concerns because the review of the GPhC is “ongoing”

The body that oversees healthcare regulators in the UK will consider a “number of complaints” it received on the GPhC’s handling of the exam in its review of the regulator.

When candidates were invited to book a slot for the March registration exam last week (February 25), some flagged they were either wrongly booked into afternoon sittings, or told to travel hundreds of miles to find a test centre with space.

Several candidates voiced their concerns about the chaotic booking experience on social media, prompting an apology from the regulator's CEO earlier this week.

This prompted other users to suggest candidates report their concerns to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which had been collecting feedback on people’s experience of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) ahead of its review of the pharmacy regulator.

When asked by C+D yesterday (March 3) how many reports the PSA had received concerning the GPhC’s management of the delayed March registration assessment, Mark Stobbs, director of scrutiny and quality at the PSA, said the watchdog has received “a number of complaints and will take those into account for our next review of the GPhC's performance”.

A PSA spokesperson later told C+D that while the responses will be used “to inform our assessment”, the watchdog is “unable to provide details of the information shared with us at this stage… as the review is ongoing”.

Apologies and extra places in Scotland

GPhC CEO Duncan Rudkin has apologised “for the anxiety and inconvenience” the chaotic booking system has caused to candidates in the lead up to the registration assessment in two weeks’ time.

He explained that the regulator is “making good progress” to address the issues, and in an update posted on the GPhC’s website last night (March 3), Mr Rudkin said exam provider Pearson VUE has secured additional places for candidates based in Scotland.

According to some candidates based in Scotland, they were initially told they would have to travel to test centres in Wales, Newcastle, Carlisle and the Isle of Mann to sit the assessment, as there were no available places in the country.

But in last night’s update, Mr Rudkin explained the additional places “means that Scottish candidates who want to sit the assessment in Scotland should be able to do so”.

“We’re working with Pearson VUE to complete the allocation of the test centre places to these candidates by the end of this week and they should receive confirmation emails as soon as their booking has been updated,” Mr Rudkin said.

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