Implementation of the education and training requirements for pharmacy support staff - FAQs

We set requirements for the education and training of support staff, to make sure they continue to have the necessary knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to provide safe and effective care to people using pharmacy services.

Our requirements cover both the education and training of pharmacy support staff, and the criteria for the approval of support staff courses and/or qualifications.

See below the frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the implementation of these requirements.

From when are the new requirements effective?

Do existing accredited courses and/or qualifications need to be reaccredited before their existing accreditation expires?

When will courses and/or qualifications for support staff be accredited to the new GPhC requirements?

How will charges for reaccreditation work in the transition period?

We offer an accredited course and/or qualification for support staff – can we continue to do so?

I am currently on a training course and/or qualification – will I need to start again?

What if a member of support staff has not completed an accredited course and/or qualification when its accreditation expires?

I want to develop a pharmacy support staff apprenticeship, do I need to meet the GPhC requirements as well?

Do current staff need to be retrained?

Is any new training required for staff who have aspects of their current role that are covered by the new requirements, but who were trained to meet the previous policy?

What if there isn’t a GPhC approved course and/or qualification that covers the all the technical skills of the role?

When do new staff need to be trained?

When will the GPhC require a learning needs assessment for students and pre-reg trainees employed as support staff?

As an employer, do I need to submit completed learning needs assessment templates to the GPhC?

Can former or suspended registrants work as support staff? Are they exempt from training


From when are the new requirements effective?

  • Requirements are effective from 1 October 2020, subject to pandemic arrangements.
  • All accreditation will be against new requirements from 1 October 2020; courses and/or qualifications.
  • Existing courses and/or qualifications must meet the new requirements when they are due for reaccreditation but allow trainees currently studying on courses and/or qualifications to continue up to a maximum of two years.  

Do existing accredited courses and/or qualifications need to be reaccredited before their existing accreditation expires? Can a course and/or qualification be reaccredited early?

  • No. Current accredited courses and/or qualifications do not require early reaccreditation. They must meet the accreditation criteria by the time they are due for reaccreditation.
  • Providers can request early reaccreditation or accreditation of new courses and/or qualifications to replace existing courses and/or qualifications.
  • Providers who wish to do so are invited to submit expressions of interest for reaccreditation in 2020/2021.
  • While we will attempt to accommodate all requests for accreditation or early reaccreditation in 2020/21, we cannot guarantee this for capacity reasons
  • We will charge for early reaccreditation in line with standard fees.
  • Providers should note that GPhC accreditation is chargeable on a cost recovery basis; providers may wish to consider becoming approved to provide a nationally recognised pharmacy services qualification at the appropriate level, instead of seeking to become accredited directly .

When will courses and/or qualifications for support staff be accredited to the new GPhC requirements? 

  • We will carry out accreditations to the new requirements from the academic year commencing 1 October 2020 onwards.
  • We will provide guidance for course and/or qualification providers in the form of an Evidence Framework.
  • Providers who wish to undergo accreditation or early reaccreditation in 2020/21 should notify the GPhC of their intentions by the end of July 2020, if they have not already done so, by emailing: education@pharmacyregulation.org
  • Providers who have already expressed their intention to seek accreditation or early reaccreditation will be scheduled for accreditation. 

How will charges for reaccreditation work in the transition period?

  • Providers are not required to undergo reaccreditation for an approved course and/or qualification before the expiry of its approval.
  • Providers seeking early reaccreditation of existing courses and/or qualifications or the accreditation of a new course and/or qualification will be charged the standard fee for reaccreditation. Providers can contact: education@pharmacyregulation.org for any questions about fees. 

We offer an accredited course and/or qualification for support staff – can we continue to do so? 

  • Yes, existing accredited courses and/or qualification may continue as usual until accreditation expires. Any trainees remaining on the course and/or qualification when accreditation expires may continue for up to a maximum of two years.
  • Any trainees remaining of the course and/or qualification after that time will need to be mapped over to the new education and training requirements.
  • Providers will be asked to justify the teach out period for each course and/or qualification at the point of accreditation. Two years is the maximum time-frame.  

I am currently on a training course and/or qualification – will I need to start again?


What if a member of support staff has not completed an accredited course and/or qualification when its accreditation expires?

  • Anyone who has started an approved course and/or qualification may complete it to meet our requirements provided they do so within a maximum of two years from the date of expiry of accreditation.
  • If the trainee has not completed the course and/or qualification by this point, the provider should map their progress and transfer them to a new approved course and/or qualification through recognition of prior learning to complete their training.
  • Providers and employers should note trainees should normally complete training within three years. 

I want to develop a pharmacy support staff apprenticeship, do I need to meet the GPhC requirements as well?

  • Yes, courses and/or qualifications based on the apprenticeship standard need to meet the GPhC support staff requirements.
  • Apprenticeship courses and/or qualifications which include a regulated national qualification are approved as result of recognition of the qualification.
  • Apprenticeship courses and/or qualifications which do not contain a qualification can be approved by undergoing accreditation and demonstrating they meet our criteria for approval.
  • GPhC approved courses and/or qualifications which are delivered through an apprenticeship funded route must fulfil all the requirements of the apprenticeship standard (including the end point assessment (EPA) where this is required). 

Do current staff need to be retrained?

  • The requirements do not apply retrospectively.
  • Staff who have already undergone approved training for a support staff role do not have to do so again.
  • This includes staff who were declared competent under grandparenting arrangements in 2004, who are not required to undergo training again in the areas in which they were declared competent.
  • However, if a staff member’s role has changed, further training may be required; employers should consult our Guidance to ensure a safe and effective pharmacy team [PDF 789 KB] for more information. 

Is any new training required for staff who have aspects of their current role that are covered by the new requirements, but who were trained to meet the previous policy?

  • The requirements do not apply retrospectively- Staff who have already undergone approved training for a support staff role do not have to do so again.
  • Staff who are already in post and who were not required to complete approved training by previous versions of our requirements: 
    • are not required to complete further training
    • their employer should keep a record of their start date and the training they have received for their role
    • employers should note that if the individual’s role has changed, further training may be required 
  • Staff who are new in role should be enrolled in approved training as soon as practical and within three-months of starting their role.

What if there isn’t a GPhC approved course and/or qualification that covers the all the technical skills of the role?

  • Where there is as yet no GPhC-approved training to cover a particular technical component of an individual member of support staff’s role, the employer may meet the requirements by arranging alternative training to cover these aspects.
  • Staff would not be required to re-take training once accredited training becomes available.
  • Staff must undertake GPhC-approved training if it is available. 

When do new staff need to be trained?

  • There is no change to existing requirements.
  • Staff must be enrolled on approved training appropriate to their role they undertake within three months of starting their role.
  • They can enrol on any training that is suitable for their role and that is approved at the time of enrolment. For details on all courses and/or qualifications currently approved by the GPhC see the information on the following pages: 

When will the GPhC require a learning needs assessment for students and pre-reg trainees employed as support staff?

Employers should ensure they have completed a learning needs assessment for any MPharm/OSPAP student or pre-registration trainee employed as support staff within three months of the requirements coming into effect.  


As an employer, do I need to submit completed learning needs assessment templates to the GPhC?

No, please keep this for your own records. You should make these available during your GPhC inspection process.


Can former or suspended registrants work as support staff? Are they exempt from training?

  • There is no change to existing requirements.
  • Former registrations can work as support staff but must meet education and training requirements.
  • Recognition of prior learning arrangements can be used to allow those who have already acquired relevant knowledge or experience to demonstrate their competency without repeating content. Employers should follow the principles of the Guidance on working in pharmacy when not on the register [PDF 391 KB] - where an individual is no longer registered for Fitness to Practice (FTP) reasons