GPhC apologise and promise increased capacity for Scottish candidates


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has taken the unusual step of issuing an apology to this year’s cohort of provisionally registered pharmacists who are set to sit their registration assessment remotely in the coming weeks.


The statement comes after confusion and uncertainty surrounding the registration assessment process. This culminated in an intervention by Alison Strath the Interim Chief Pharmaceutical Officier fo Scotland:



In a statement published on their website, Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:


“I am really sorry about the issues some candidates are experiencing with the registration assessment booking system. Making life more stressful for any candidates, particularly at this difficult time, is the last thing we want to do. As well as apologising, I want to reassure candidates that we are continuing to make good progress with resolving the remaining issues with booking places for the March sittings. This is our top priority right now.


“We have worked with Pearson VUE to identify additional capacity, particularly for candidates in Scotland. We are currently working to finalise arrangements for these further places and aim to be in touch with relevant candidates very soon.


“Pearson VUE has confirmed that places have now been booked for candidates sitting remotely because of reasonable adjustments or because they are based overseas.  These candidates should receive a confirmation email from Pearson VUE about their remote sitting place.


“Pearson VUE has also been contacting a number of candidates who had booked afternoon sitting places due to a technical error, to reallocate them to a morning sitting.”



Has your life been impacted by the situation around the provisional registration process? We would really like to hear from you. If you answer the questions below and indicate that you give us permission we will publish your contribution as a letter to the editor.





Pharmacist jailed for illegal sale and supply of prescription medicines


A pharmacist was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court today to twelve months imprisonment for selling hundreds of thousands of doses of addictive prescription drugs onto the black market. The medicines were sold at a huge profit during 2016 and 2017. The value of these medicines on the black market is estimated at over £1 million.


The pharmacist, 36, worked at his mother’s pharmacy in West Bromwich and made over £59,000 from the Class C drugs.


Following an investigation led by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), investigators and partners from West Midlands Police visited the pharmacy. Records found on the premises showed that of hundreds of thousands of doses of diazepam, nitrazepam, tramadol, zolpidem and zopiclone purchased from wholesalers, only a small percentage had been dispensed against prescription.


This left more than 800,000 pills unaccounted for that the pharmacist later admitted he had sold to drug dealers.


The investigation began following allegations that the pharmacy was selling large quantities of prescription-only medicine without a prescription. When contacted about the investigation by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the pharmacist pretended to be his mother and said he was “shocked and blindsided” by the accusations. He then went on to provide falsified evidence intended to disprove the allegations.


While the pharmacist has admitted to the charges, he claims that after initially making a voluntary sale to drug dealers he was then forced to sell further medicines after he was threatened outside of his pharmacy. He has refused to provide any information on who these people were or who he sold to.


The pharmacist was suspended from the GPhC register under an interim order, meaning that he was unable to practice while waiting for the case to come to court.


His mother, whose pharmacy he worked at, was not involved in any of the criminal activity.


Grant Powell, the MHRA Enforcement officer leading the case, said:


“It is a serious criminal offence to sell controlled, unlicensed or prescription-only medicines in this way.


“Anyone who sells medicines illegally could be exploiting vulnerable people and clearly has no regard for their health or welfare. Prescription-only medicines are potent and should only be taken under medical supervision.


“We work closely with regulatory and law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those involved.


“If you think you have been offered a medicine illegally, or have any information about suspected or known illegal trading in medicines, please contact the MHRA.”


The pharmacist pleaded guilty to five counts of supplying controlled class C drugs at Birmingham Crown Court on 09/02/2021.


Elements of this article are being shared under the Open Government Copyright licence.



Urgent clarification required about registration assessment



The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is seeking urgent clarification from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) following concerns raised about booking arrangements for the upcoming registration assessment.


The call comes after there has been some confusion about the arrangements for candidates who wish to sit the assessment this year.


Responding to the concerns, Gail Fleming, Director for Education and Professional Development, said:


“With just three weeks to go until the assessment, this is incredibly difficult for provisionally registered pharmacists who have worked so hard to provide the best possible care for patients throughout the pandemic.  It is important that there is sufficient capacity so trainees avoid having to travel any significant distance to take the assessment, especially during a national lockdown. We are also seeking confirmation of the timing of assessment sittings which assure the integrity of the assessment.


“We have contacted the GPhC to seek urgent clarification on this matter. Trainees will be focused on their exam preparation and must not have distractions such as trying to find a test centre. It is critical that this issue is resolved quickly.


“Once again, we are so incredibly proud and grateful for the dedication shown by all provisionally registered pharmacists during this difficult period and the huge contributions they have made throughout COVID-19.  They are continuing to work extremely hard to ensure the best possible care for patients and we all should be doing everything we can to support them.”



What is your opinion on how the registration assessment has been handled this year? 




NPA welcomes GPhC Covid-19 rapid antibody testing change


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) says it will allow pharmacies to provide COVID-19 tests in certain circumstances, in a move welcomed by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA).


The GPhC states that the regulator is no longer barring community pharmacies from providing point of care or near-person antibody tests. Instead, they expect any pharmacy owner or pharmacy professional to ‘carefully consider’ Public Health England guidance and other relevant guidance when deciding whether it is appropriate to offer this type of test, or other type of COVID-19 test.


NPA Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said:


“We are delighted that the GPhC has joined Public Health England in updating guidance on COVID-19 testing, following repeated representations by the NPA. Community pharmacies are no longer explicitly prohibited from providing COVID tests, which was a clear anomaly in the initial position.


“We believe our persistence helped bring about this levelling of the playing field in relation to testing, as well as a big dollop of common sense. We are now examining the detail of this modified guidance – PHE and GPhC – so that the full implications can be properly understood.”




GPhC changes stance on Covid-19 rapid antibody testing in pharmacies


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has changed their stance on Covid-19 rapid antibody testing in UK community pharmacies. In light of the updated Public Health England (PHE) guidance, the GPhC are no longer asking community pharmacies not to provide rapid, point of care, near-person antibody tests for Covid-19.


The statement comes after the GPhC had previously told pharmacy owners across the UK in July 2020 that it was inappropriate to supply these types of rapid antibody tests.


In a statement the GPhC said the following:


“We have updated our position on supplying different types of Covid-19 tests from pharmacies in Great Britain. We have kept our position on the supply of Covid-19 tests from pharmacies under close review, in this complex and fast-changing landscape. We have been in regular contact with other regulators and public health bodies with leading roles in relation to testing to understand their current positions.


“We have carefully reviewed guidance from Public Health England published on 1st February 2021 and have updated our previous position on the provision of rapid, point of care, near-person antibody tests for Covid-19 from community pharmacies in response. In light of the updated Public Health England guidance, we are no longer asking community pharmacies not to provide rapid, point of care, near-person antibody tests for Covid-19.


“Instead, we expect any pharmacy owner or pharmacy professional to carefully consider the PHE guidance and other relevant guidance if deciding whether it is appropriate to offer this type of test or other types of Covid-19 test. We also expect providers to carry out a full risk assessment and have provided examples of what pharmacy owners should consider when preparing their risk assessment.


“Examples of things to consider include:


  • The end to end process and whether all components and parties involved meeting the requirements for the service to be safe and quality assured.
  • How the results are fed into the wider surveillance network and/ or part of a clinical study.
  • How you will make sure that suitable training is delivered for all health care professionals and staff members involved in the service so they are aware of their roles and responsibilities, including providing evidence-based information to people using the service in line with government guidelines.


“It is essential that any pharmacy offering Covid-19 tests also checks whether they need to be accredited with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service.”


The GPhC have invited pharmacy owners to read their updated position on the supply of Covid-19 tests from pharmacies for more information.



GPhC publish new pharmacist education and training standards


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has published new initial education and training standards for pharmacists. This marks a shift towards ‘clinical’ practice for pharmacists.


It is the most significant change in pharmacy education in a generation.


The standards set out the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional behaviours a student or trainee pharmacist must demonstrate to pass their initial education and training and to join the professional register. The standards also set out the requirements for organisations providing initial education and training.


These changes include:


  • Introducing a new set of learning outcomes that cover the full five years of education and training, and which can link to their continued development after registration.
  • Incorporating the skills, knowledge and attributes for prescribing, to enable pharmacists to independently prescribe from the point of registration.
  • Emphasising the application of science in clinical practice and including a greater focus on the key skills needed for current and future roles – including professional judgement, management of risk, and diagnostic and consultation skills.
  • Making the fifth year of initial education and training a foundation training year with strengthened supervision support, and collaborative working between higher education institutions, statutory education bodies and employers.
  • Having a greater emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion to combat discrimination and deal with health inequalities.


The GPhC has said that the implementation of these standards will transform the education and training of pharmacists for a generation, so they are able to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public from their first day on the register, including through prescribing medicines.


The new standards have been welcomed by the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers for Great Britain: In an open letter they said:


“Today’s publication by the General Pharmaceutical Council of new initial education and training standards for pharmacists marks a fundamental and exciting shift towards clinical practice for pharmacists. It marks the biggest change in pharmacy education since the introduction of a four-year Master’s level degree in 1997, and before that the requirement for a university degree to become a pharmacist in 1970.


“As the heads of the profession across Great Britain, we wholeheartedly welcome these long-anticipated and essential changes and we look forward to this being introduced UK wide shortly.


“While still retaining sufficient scientific training to support rational and logical thinking, the changes to the standards will help to generate new cohorts of pharmacists with enhanced clinical skills, developed across an improved five-year continuum of training before registration, satisfying the ever-increasing demand for high-quality pharmacy professional skills from patients and the NHS.


“This new generation of pharmacists will be independent prescribers from their day of registration and so will be able to play a much bigger part in caring for patients with long term health conditions, in partnership with patients, carers and other members of the healthcare team.


“As heads of the profession, we are also committed to ensuring the existing pharmacist professional workforce can develop their skills as required so that they too can practice at an enhanced clinical level. We must also make sure that postgraduate professional development is fit for purpose and is aligned to these initial education and training reforms.


“We are very grateful to the General Pharmaceutical Council for leading this important work and we would encourage all partners, from Government to employers, universities to statutory education and professional bodies, to work closely together to implement the changes required. Organisations will need to commit further resources to ensure that the changes are implemented quickly and effectively and at the scale and urgent pace that is needed. This includes Governments and statutory education bodies making sure the necessary funds are in place immediately.


“Importantly, bringing current and future students with us along this journey will be critical, demonstrating to them the great career opportunities they will have through this exciting development.


“Thank you to all those pharmacy professionals working to support people during this very challenging pandemic and we hope this is a welcome piece of good news during difficult times.”


Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:


“Publishing these standards is a significant milestone in our work to transform pharmacists’ initial education and training. These changes will help to achieve ambitious strategies for pharmacy and health across the UK, by enabling newly-qualified pharmacists to play a much greater role in providing clinical care to patients and the public.


“The pandemic has demonstrated the need for pharmacy professionals to be able to take on new roles within the healthcare team and to work flexibly in the full range of healthcare settings.  We, therefore, need to move ahead with implementing these changes as quickly as possible.


“We are very grateful to all of the stakeholders involved for their collaboration and support in developing and finalising the standards. The standards will only be implemented successfully if this collaboration continues, and if the necessary resources, including funding, are in place. We look forward to working together with everyone to achieve the outcome we all want, for the benefit of patients and the public.”


Gail Fleming, RPS Director for Education and Professional Development, said:


“We welcome the publication of the new initial education and training standards from the GPhC, which marks a significant step forward for our profession. The pandemic has shone a light on the impact that pharmacists have, working across a range of sectors as key members of multi-professional teams. These new standards will enable pharmacists to better fulfil their roles as medicines experts and realise their potential as independent prescribers.


“We are delighted that the standards reflect the same domains used in post-registration, which supports a structured and seamless approach to the development of a pharmacist’s career, from initial education and training through to consultant level practice.


“We are pleased that the changes outlined in the standards include improvements relating to equality, diversity and fairness as well as a focus on quality, which will ensure that all trainees experience high-quality placements, particularly in the foundation year.


“It’s essential that the necessary additional funding is provided for these standards, so they can be implemented correctly. We look forward to continuing our work with the GPhC and other stakeholders to ensure that students can fully see how this will affect their learning over the coming years.”