The Council of the GPhC has today agreed on a policy for registering pharmacists on a provisional basis as part of the regulator’s response to the pandemic.
The policy sets out the criteria that this year’s pre-registration pharmacist trainees will have to meet to be eligible to join the pharmacist register on a provisional basis. It also outlines requirements that employers must put in place to support provisionally-registered pharmacists and to protect patient safety.
This decision comes after the registration assessments scheduled for June and September 2020 were postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligibility criteria for provisional registration
The policy sets out criteria for applying to provisionally register as a pharmacist apply from 1 July 2020 until 1 July 2021. Trainees can apply from July and begin to join the register from 1 August.
The criteria include; successfully completing 52 weeks pre-registration training, not having previously failed the registration assessment and having received a final declaration from their tutor confirming that they have met all the performance standards and are safe to be registered provisionally.
All provisionally registered pharmacists will have to be employed directly by the organisation or business in which they are working (and so cannot work as a locum) and must practise under the guidance and direction of a senior pharmacist. The policy confirms they may operate as the Responsible Pharmacist.
The GPhC will also issue standards for employers which will set out the framework in which pharmacists who are registered provisionally must operate, after carrying out further engagement with key stakeholders.
The standards will include information about the structured support that must be in place and the requirements that must be fulfilled by the employer when considering the location in which they will practise and the responsibilities they will be expected to undertake. The policy states that employers must complete a risk assessment, provide access to a named experienced pharmacist for clinical advice; and enable other support such as access to a mentor.
The policy confirms that individuals who are provisionally registered must sit the registration assessment at the first opportunity if they are fit to do so and must pass the registration assessment in order to remain on the register.
The Council agreed that, subject to the outcome of a procurement exercise, the registration assessment should be delivered online as soon as is practicable, taking account of the necessary technical, security, accessibility and content issues. This reflects the current Government requirements in relation to social distancing and large gatherings and takes account of the possibility of such requirements either continuing or being re-imposed later.
Further information about the registration assessment will be provided once the procurement is complete and individuals will be given a minimum of two months’ notice of the date for the assessment.
The GPhC is contacting pre-registration trainees and tutors via email to let them know about the criteria for provisional registration and to advise them that the registration assessment is now expected to be held online.
Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council commented:
“We want to first thank all pre-reg trainees and tutors for their continued hard work and patience while we have been developing this policy. We know this is a very difficult situation for them.
“Our approach has been informed by discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, including trainee representatives, professional leadership and representative bodies, employers and education and training bodies across England, Scotland and Wales.
“There were lots of complex issues which we have had to carefully consider, and we have had to balance risks and benefits when deciding the approach. The Council’s final decisions have been guided by a set of principles, including maintaining standards for entry to the register to protect patient safety and quality of care, and the importance of maintaining the workforce pipeline so that pharmacy can continue to serve the needs of patients.
“We will continue to engage with stakeholders as we put this policy into practice, both to help inform our thinking on any particular points where we need to clarify the policy further, and to make sure that professional leadership and representative bodies, education and training organisations and employers are all able to play their part effectively in supporting trainees through this process.”