Wide variation in pre-reg pass rates, reveals GPhC

Pharmacy discipline, location and ethnicity were all factors in registration exam pass rates, the GPhC's annual report has shown

Pharmacy discipline, location and ethnicity were all factors in registration exam pass rates, the pharmacy regulator's annual report has shown

Pre-reg exam pass rates varied widely according to pharmacy discipline, location and ethnicity last year, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has revealed.

Nearly a quarter of trainees in England failed their first registration exam last June compared to less than one in 10 in Scotland and Wales, the GPhC announced in its annual report, published on Thursday (July 3).

There was similar disparity between community and hospital pharmacy trainees, with 24 per cent of community trainees failing first time as opposed to 9 per cent of hospital trainees, the analysis of last year's June exam sitting found.

Pass rates also varied widely between different ethnic groups, data from more than 100 people suggested. Ninety three per cent of white British trainees who gave their ethnicity data passed first time compared to 55 per cent of black African trainees.

The GPhC pledged to investigate the reasons for the differences in pass rates and "take action if necessary".

The differences appeared to mirror the GPhC's data on satisfaction with pre-reg placements, gathered from 905 pre-registration trainees who completed the 2012-13 training year. Sixty one per cent in England rated their educational supervision as good or excellent, compared to 71 per cent in Wales and 82 per cent in Scotland, revealed the data, published last month.

Hospital pharmacists reported being more satisfied with their training, with 83 per cent of respondents rating their training experience as "good" compared to just 74 per cent of community pharmacy counterparts.

After the survey was released, the GPhC pledged to investigate discrepancies in pre-reg training quality between different regions and sectors.

In February, the GPhC said its guidance for pre-reg tutors was only the first step in tackling poor quality training.


First attempt pass rates

Scotland 93%

England 78%

Hospital 91%

Community 76%

Source: GPhC annual report 2013-14

Have you seen evidence of variation in exam passes among your pre-regs?

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L Murphy, Pharmaceutical Adviser

bore off...yAwn. look out for numero uno my policy-did-didicidy. gosh posh is lonely. yAAwn. pre-reg can sweep up nasal hair trimmings. delight-tilitiful.


I feel sorry for anyone that's recently qualified

The future looks v bleak

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

They should re-train immediately. there is still hope.

Susan M Shepherd, Community pharmacist

As a tutor of many years experience, these figures also reflect the wide range of abilities of applicants currently wishing to enter pre-registration training. While some students have an excellent command of english and basic mathematics, I find it amazing how some have managed to progress through 4 years of university education.

Jacques Gholam, Community pharmacist

hear hear

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

The national and sector differences are down to the level of structure. In Scotland our pre-reg training is overseen by NES, who provide support, training days and a mock exam to students. Working hours are standardised at 37.5h/week with 4h protected study time and wages are standardised at NHS band 5. NES are responsible for matching up students and training sites and also ensuring that the training sites they use are of a suitable standard. In England, however, everything outside the GPhC's requirements is solely between the trainee and the tutor. I'm not saying it's all perfect in Scotland, but even if your tutor is rubbish here there's at least support and training from NES to prepare you for your exam. The same of course goes for hospital pharmacy, which tends to have a structured training programme for their trainees.

What I would like to see is the pre-reg pass rate for MPharm graduates of each university.

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Points well made, Calum. The PreReg as its currently structured (esp in England) is well-beyond its sell-by date. Both tutors and tutees need proper support and there needs to be a quality framework. But none of this comes without resource implications. The NHS (rightly) wants a quality community pharmacy service - but how is that possible after 10+ years of financial attrition?

Arrey TABOT, Other pharmacist

I am surprise it took this long to bring this up. So many students have been let down by the training providers. No one to run to .. Students feel like they are caught between the devil and deep blue sea. Some training sites have to be named , shamed and banned to my opinion.


Exactly why the market needs to re-open. The SH@T dished out by contractors needs to be sorted.

Small Pharm Owner, Other pharmacy staff

I'm getting so bored of Mesit relating very article to the monopoly on the market!! Yawn! It's public money that finances pharmacies... I know you love running your own doctors practice, 8 pharmacies and your other ventures....yawn ....but some of us are not as well off!


sound envious.....

One of the seven deadly sins..

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Mesut - what makes you think that would make things better? Maybe it would make them worse? (And yes, I agree... there's a problem..) Graham


It's not rocket science

Greater competition increases standards

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

'Greater competiton increases standards' Firstly, increasing standards would mean increasing the number of standards, I think you mean improving standards. Secondly, the parrot answer of 'competition' as the ultimate solution to all problems relating to standards, is an idea which has been falsified emprically.

In some circumstances it is the answer, but as proven empirically by the free market fundamentalism of the last twenty years, it often results in a reduction in quality which is masked from the consumer until it is too late and the profits have been taken.

You remind of the pub bore who thinks they have the common sense answer that provides a complete solution to all problems in society. I am glad you are not involved in the development of rockets.


Have you just come back from the Pub?

Mark Boland, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I see what you have done there. I mentioned the word pub in my post and so you asked if I have been in the pub, aren't you the clever boy. Imagine you had asked me if I had a few too many or told me to have another drink, now that would have been hilarious. You really are a character, I bet you are really 'crazy' on a night out and it is a gag a minute (obviously inbetween putting the world to rights). Do you wear comedy ties at work and have a witty bumper sticker on your car?

Chijioke Agomo, Locum pharmacist

The problems we have with pre-reg training in England, probably goes beyond pre-reg training, to include other aspects of the profession in England. Poorly treated and remunerated pharmacists/tutors are likely to produce poorly equiped pre-reg trainees!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

*This comment has been removed for a breach of the community rules - C+D

Oliver Munn, Locum pharmacist

Think this comment need a bit of clarification....dangerous and concerning territory.


Community pre reg students basically used as dispensers and another pair of hands....instead of being trained properly and given adequote time off..

sad but true..!!!

Kishore Patel, Community pharmacist

I agree some Community Pharmacies use Pre-Reg students as an extra pair of hands. I as an owner have never had a pre-reg pharmacist in 20 years because I have never been certain that I could dedicate the time required. However I am now own a low volume dispensing Pharmacy on the Brunel University Campus as well as a Health Outlet on Campus. I have a full time pharmacist working in the Pharmacy and I have just undergone training with CPPE to become a registered tutor and for the first time was looking forward to training someone young. We had everything in place including a place for tour student on the ProPharmace Professional Training programme which includes 9 full days of training with other pre-reg students and also includes 4 days of training as a tutor for me. Having a full time pharmacist would have allowed me plenty of time for training and having the Pharmacy in a Medical Centre would I think been a bonus for the student( we have only just moved into medical centre).
Alas our student failed some of her exams and has decided to take a gap year! If there are any pre-reg students looking for a place or you know of someone then please ask them to contact Brunel Pharmacy in Uxbridge. I want the chance to prove that Community Pharmacy is still a good place to learn.
Kish Patel Community Pharmacist

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

nice advert!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

exactly what I've heard from pre-students. One was rejected by an independent because she had no previous experience using a till. Don't you just love Pharmacy

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