Provisional pharmacist registration could begin in August


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is developing a provisional registration option for current pre-registration trainees who meet certain criteria and have said that they are working on the basis that those who are eligible would be able to join the register at the same time as they usually would, in August this year.


The announcement comes after the postponement of this year’s GPhC and PSNI registration exam.


In a letter to pre-registration students GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin commented:


“We know you are anxious to hear any updates about provisional registration and the postponed registration assessments. Thank you for your patience while we continue to develop a way forward in this challenging situation.


“Provisional registration and holding a registration assessment are priority issues for us. Both are complex and we want to make sure that the arrangements we put in place are practicable, fair, and provide the necessary safeguards and reassurance to patients and the public.”


The letter outlined that on Tuesday 21 April, the GPhC held a virtual meeting with organisations representing students and trainees, universities, employers, education and training bodies and others from across the UK, to discuss the proposals and help everyone involved understand how these might work in practice. The GPhC Council also discussed the issues and options during a virtual workshop on Thursday 23 April.


The letter goes on to outline the current thinking on how to proceed with pre-registration activities:


“We know many of you are experiencing significant uncertainty and want answers as soon as possible. We are working as quickly as possible to develop the way forward. There are lots of complex issues that need to be worked through carefully, to make sure the final approach works in different practice settings and in each of the three countries.”


The GPhC has laid out the key principles they are using to help inform the decisions they are making about pre-registration training and the registration assessment. These principles are as follows:


  • Maintain standards for entry to the register to protect patient safety and the quality of care given to patients and the public, both now and over the long term.
  • Support the NHS and community pharmacy by strengthening the workforce at this critical time.
  • Safeguard the welfare of students and trainees whilst also ensuring that their hard work, and that of their tutors, over many years is given suitable recognition at this key stage in their professional lives.
  • Minimise blockages or gaps in the pipeline for qualified new registrants to join the profession in 2020 and in the following years.


The letter from Mr Rudkin sought to reassure pre-registration students:


“We will make sure all trainees get the information they need to apply for registration as far in advance as possible.


“We believe that those entered on the register would need structured support to manage the transition into practice as a pharmacist and we will continue to work with partners on what that would involve and what requirements would need to be in place.


“We propose that time spent provisionally registered would count towards the two years of practice needed to become an independent prescriber and towards any Foundation training that provisionally-registered pharmacists may undertake.


“We will now continue to work closely with our partners to develop these proposals further. This includes determining the criteria and process to become provisionally registered, and the structured support and requirements that trainees will need to have in place to practise safely.


“We will be sharing further details with you as soon as possible and seeking views to make sure the process is practicable, fair, and provides the necessary safeguards and reassurance to patients and the public.”


Mr Rudkin went on to make comment about the arrangements for the registration assessment:


“We are continuing to consider a range of different options for the postponed registration assessments. This includes looking at the format of the assessment, and whether a move to an online sitting would be possible.


“We are investigating learning and experience from other healthcare training schemes and university assessments which have been recently adapted as part of this work.”


“We understand that many trainees are now approaching, or have reached week 39 of their training when they are due to be assessed. We would like to make clear that tutors should carry out the week 39 assessment, whenever this is possible. Make sure you keep a copy for your records – but there’s no need to send it to us at the moment.


“We would like to reassure you that we will keep you updated regularly on the progress of these proposals as we work to make sure that they are fair, safe and practicable.


“Thank you again for your patience and your ongoing work to support patients and the public during the pandemic.


The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) had previously called for pre-registration pharmacists to be registered provisionally without delay and today they have welcomed the update from the GPhC.


The RPS made a statement earlier today in support of the proposals to begin provisional registration in August:


“Pre-reg pharmacists are understandably worried about their future careers. We’re really pleased that the GPhC have today announced that provisional registration of pre-registration pharmacists will begin in August. This brings welcome certainty to what happens next, even though we recognise much more detail is needed.


“We’re glad that the GPhC has also agreed to our calls that time spent previously registered will:


  • Count towards the two years of practice needed to become an independent prescriber.
  • Count towards any Foundation training that provisionally registered pharmacists may undertake.


RPS Director of Education and Professional Development Gail Fleming said:

“This letter from the GPhC is important as is the need to develop a model for both the assessment and provisional registration quickly. The proposal for structured support is welcomed. We believe this should be commensurate with our previous asks for Foundation training to have a named and trained preceptor, as well as development and regular review against the RPS Foundation Pharmacist Framework.

“We will be working with GPhC to develop these provisional registration proposals further and help support pre-reg pharmacists as well as possible during this very challenging situation.”



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