Consultation on English language guidance

The GPhC is proposing that applicants to the registers of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians could use a recent pass of the Pharmacy Occupational English Language Test (OET) as evidence of English language competence.

Currently, where an applicant can only provide evidence of their English language skills by taking a test, the GPhC solely accepts a pass in the International English Language testing System (IELTS) test. This change to the guidance would give applicants another type of language test to choose from.

The Pharmacy OET would be accepted as an alternative to a recent pass of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for eligibility to start the Overseas Pharmacists’ Assessment Programme, and for registration.  

The OET is the only English language test specifically for healthcare professionals. It assesses language skills using real healthcare communication scenarios that candidates are likely to meet in the workplace. The OET for Pharmacy is applicable to both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. It is already used by the regulators of other health professionals in the UK and internationally to assess English language skills.

Individuals taking the Pharmacy OET would be required to score at least a B in each of the four areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking in English at one sitting of the test, to meet the level of English language ability required. This would be the equivalent of our current requirement for a recent pass of the academic version of IELTS with an overall score of at least 7 and with no score less than 7 in each of the four areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking at one sitting of the test. 

GPhC Chief Executive Duncan Rudkin said:

“Everyone applying to register as a pharmacist or pharmacy technician must provide evidence of the ability to communicate clearly in English, to deliver safe and effective healthcare to patients and the public in Great Britain.

“We welcome your views on our proposal to broaden the qualifications we would accept as evidence of English language skills.”

The consultation is on the GPhC website and available in English [PDF 529KB] and in Welsh [PDF 659KB]


Notes to Editors

  1. There are 12 different versions of the OET, to test health practitioners from the 12 professions of nursing, medicine, dentistry, occupational therapy, optometry, physiotherapy, pharmacy, radiotherapy, speech pathology, podiatry, dietetics and veterinary science.  The Nursing and Midwifery Council and the General Medical Council already accept the OET as evidence of an applicant’s English language competence as an alternative test to the IELTS test.
  2. We will continue to accept a recent pass of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as evidence.
  3. Where we receive an allegation or have concerns that a registrant may not have the necessary knowledge of English, the registrar, Investigating Committee or Fitness to Practise Committee can require the registrant to pass either the academic version of the IELTS or the Pharmacy OET and provide evidence of having achieved the accepted pass scores at one sitting of the test. 
  4. The consultation runs until 6 November 2020.