On 29 June 2022, just under 2,700 candidates sat the registration assessment in test centres across the UK. Although the majority of candidates were able to complete the assessment with no issues, some candidates experienced delays in starting either Paper 1 or Paper 2 due to IT or other technical issues at a small number of test centres in England.
The GPhC is working with BTL, which runs the assessment sitting on behalf of the GPhC, to rapidly investigate these delays.
The GPhC Council today held an emergency meeting to urgently review the situation and what further measures could be put in place to support the affected candidates.
The Council noted that the GPhC has already confirmed that candidates who experienced severe delays will have their assessment fees refunded in full, and that the severe delay will be automatically accepted as grounds for appeal if they do not pass. This means that if they do not pass the assessment, this sitting would not count as one of their attempts to pass.
The Council agreed that the GPhC would offer provisional registration to candidates who were severely impacted by delays and so were not able to pass this sitting, providing they meet certain eligibility criteria. The GPhC will define the criteria of which candidates will be eligible for provisional registration and publish the criteria as soon as possible, so candidates know what their options are if relevant.
Candidates who were provisionally registered would be able to remain on the provisional register from 1 August 2022 until 1 February 2023, to give them the opportunity to sit and pass the next sitting of the registration assessment on 3 November and to join the pharmacist register. This means that these candidates will be able to work as a provisionally-registered pharmacist while they wait for the next sitting.
The same criteria and guidance would apply as was in place previously for provisionally-registered pharmacists employed between July 2020 and January 2022. This includes employers carrying out risk assessments and providing senior pharmacist guidance and support during the period. With those measures in place, provisionally registered pharmacists would be able to work as Responsible Pharmacists, where relevant.
Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:
“We share the sense of anger that many have expressed about the severe delays that some candidates sitting the registration assessment have experienced.
“Our primary focus now is on how best we can support and care for those affected. We believe an offer of provisional registration to the candidates who were severely impacted by delays is the right thing to do in terms of standards and the public interest, as well as going a long way to allaying candidates’ concerns about employment and income.
“We also need to ensure we get to the bottom of the root causes so that we can understand how better to reduce the chance of future problems and protect future candidates, including those sitting the exam in November.”
Further support for candidates
The professions charity, Pharmacist Support, may be able to support candidates with their wellbeing at this difficult and stressful time.
Those who may find themselves in need of emotional support can also contact charity’s Listening Friend Peer Support Service. The peer support provides you with an opportunity to talk anonymously and in confidence about the stress you may be facing. Their trained volunteers do not provide advice, but they recognise the pressures of pharmacy practice and will offer you the time and space to talk through those issues to try and find clarity.
To request a Listening Friend, please call (freephone) the Pharmacist Support Enquiries Line on 0808 168 2233.
For those suffering from depression, anxiety or other psychological issues the charity has a confidential counselling service. Further details can be found in the Counselling section of Pharmacist Support's website.