COVID-19 Q&A: for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians

We have compiled answers to the questions we are being asked in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Categorised by theme, use the links below to navigate to the relevant section. 

Last reviewed 2 November 2020.

Revalidation and renewal 

Pharmacy operations   

Key worker ID  

Supply of tests for COVID-19 from pharmacies

Revalidation and renewal

How many revalidation entries do I need to submit? 

Pharmacy professionals who have a registration renewal deadline between 1 September and 30 April 2021 will only need to submit a reflective account when they renew their registration.

You may find the myGPhC system will not let you submit your reflective account until you make a declaration about a peer discussion. You do not need to submit a peer discussion, so please tick 'yes' on the declaration to over-ride this.

Our current intention would be that we will resume revalidation requirements in full after 30 April 2021, but we will keep this under review and provide an update in early 2021.

What standards do I need to reflect on?

Pharmacy professionals are still expected to reflect on one or more of the following three standards when completing their reflective account:

  • standard 3 - pharmacy professionals must communicate effectively
  • standard 6 - pharmacy professionals must behave professionally
  • standard 9 - pharmacy professionals must demonstrate leadership

We would encourage pharmacy professionals to reflect on their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic when completing their reflective account, although this is not essential.

What should I do if I cannot submit the entries that are required?  

If you do not feel you are able to submit the reduced submission of one reflective account by your revalidation submission deadline, you will need to complete an exceptional circumstances request on your myGPhC account. 

We will only consider exceptional circumstances if you can provide evidence to show you have not been able to practise between 10 – 12 months of your registration year.

We will not usually consider exceptional circumstances where your reason is due to the demands on your practice due to the pandemic. 

Am I still required to renew my registration, and do I need to still pay the full registration fee?

You will need to make the required declarations and pay the fee to renew your registration. Your renewal is due two months before your registration expiry date. 
If you have a direct debit set up, please refer to your renewal notice for the date by which you need to make your fitness to practise declarations by.       

Pharmacy operations

What personal protective equipment (PPE) should my team and I be wearing when providing pharmacy services?

Information about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for pharmacy teams in England, Scotland and Wales can be found on the Public Health England website which provides guidance on COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC).

NHS England provides further information on infection control under the primary care sections of the website and in the community pharmacy standard operating procedure.

Health Protection Scotland provides further resources for Scotland to support the Public Health England infection prevention and control advice.

Public Health Wales also provides further resources for Wales.

Should pharmacy professionals and pharmacy team members be asked to work alone when the pharmacy is open during the pandemic?

Our standards for registered pharmacies include that pharmacy owners should make sure there are enough staff, suitably qualified and skilled, for the safe and effective provision of the pharmacy services provided.

Asking any member of the pharmacy team to work alone increases potential risks to their safety, as well as the safety of patients and the public.    

Key worker ID

How can I and other members of my pharmacy team demonstrate that we are key NHS workers when travelling to and from work?

You and your colleagues can download this letter, co-signed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), which you can show to law enforcement teams to confirm that you are an NHS key worker and need to travel between your home and place of work. 

Supply of tests for COVID-19 from pharmacies

What is the GPhC’s role in relation to COVID-19 testing kits?

As the global pandemic progresses there is an increasing variety of tests being made available to test for current or previous infection with COVID-19.

We set standards that pharmacy professionals and pharmacy owners have to meet at all times, including when offering any type of COVID-19 testing service.  

Our overarching aim is the protection of the public, including protecting, promoting and maintaining public health generally, as well as the protection of pharmacy service users specifically. 

We do not want to impede public access to safe, effective and responsible testing, or to obstruct responsible innovation in a fast-moving and challenging public health environment.

The role of other regulators and public bodies

Several regulatory and public bodies have leading roles with respect to: the regulation of test kits as medical devices (MHRA); legality of retail sales generally (Trading Standards); regulation of medical services (CQC, HIW, HIS) and authoritative public health guidance from the national public health agencies.

Our approach to COVID-19 testing kits

We do not have the jurisdiction or capability to form our own view on the legality, safety or efficacy of particular types of tests or kits, or the advisability of their use in public health terms. 

Our approach therefore is to support the positions taken by the relevant authorities, including the MHRA and the public health bodies, on whether it is appropriate to offer particular types of COVID-19 test at the current time, in light of the evidence available. This includes supporting the position that it is not appropriate for community pharmacy to be selling and recommending rapid COVID-19 antibody test kits at this point in time.

Why can I not offer COVID-19 rapid antibody tests within the pharmacy? 

We do not regard it as appropriate for community pharmacy to be selling and recommending rapid COVID-19 antibody test kits at this point in time. This is based on the guidance and evidence available from the key bodies, including the public health bodies and the MHRA.  

The UK Government as well as the Scottish and Welsh Governments, alongside the key public health bodies, WHO and SAGE have all intimated that 

  • the use of rapid antibody test kits in the response to COVID-19 has still not yet been established, 
  • there is conflicting evidence in relation to the use and efficacy of these tests and 
  • the public health consequences potentially outweigh any benefit a patient or member of the public may gain from this type of test.  

Our Chief Executive has set out our position in a letter to pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists. [PDF 204.66 KB]

We are aware that this is a fast-changing landscape and there is significant interest across community pharmacy in being able to provide COVID-19 rapid antibody tests to the public. 

We are continuing to work closely with other regulators and public health bodies with leading roles in relation to testing to understand their current positions and have been in regular contact with them.

We have recently written again to the public health bodies, including Public Health England, to ask them to confirm their current position in relation to the provision of rapid antibody testing, rapid antigen testing and other forms of COVID-19 testing within settings such as community pharmacies.

We will update this FAQ once we have received responses from the public health bodies. 

Can I offer other types of tests, including COVID-19 rapid antigen tests and ‘fit to fly’ tests, within the pharmacy? 

We have not taken a position on any other form of COVID-19 test. 

This is a complex and rapidly changing landscape and so pharmacy owners and pharmacy professionals must take responsibility when deciding whether to offer other types of COVID-19 tests.  

You should carefully consider the relevant guidance available from the MHRA and public health bodies, and our regulatory standards and guidance, when deciding whether to offer a particular test within your pharmacy/ pharmacies.

You should also carry out a full and thorough risk assessment.

What should I consider when carrying out a risk assessment for a particular type of COVID-19 test?

We would expect you to consider how you will meet our standards and guidance when offering this service. We would also expect you to consider:

  • the wider public health implications of implementing such a service and whether the benefit and value added to patients outweighs the risk 
  • the evidence available for the efficacy of the test(s) you plan to offer
  • relevant guidance and advice from the MHRA and public health bodies
  • your premises and whether are they suitable to provide this service and support social distancing 
  • the end to end process and whether all components and parties involved meet the requirements for the service to be safe and quality assured
  • whether you would be using the test as intended and detailed by the manufacturer, and whether you have considered the potential limitations of the test in your context and environment (for example its efficacy for asymptomatic patients)
  • whether the results are fed into the wider surveillance network and/ or part of a clinical study
  • whether you have sought appropriate indemnity insurance and been clear with the indemnifier as to what they are offering in comparison to the manufacturer’s intended use
  • how you will make sure that suitable training is delivered for all health care professionals and staff members involved in the service so they aware of their roles and responsibilities, including providing evidence-based information to people using the service in line with government guidelines.