COVID-19 Q&A: for pharmacy owners

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 13 November 2020.

Pharmacy inspections

Employing a provisionally-registered pharmacist

Training for temporary support staff

COVID-19: testing (opens on a separate tab)

Communicating with patients and public who don't speak English  


Pharmacy inspections

Are you still carrying out any inspections during the coronavirus pandemic?

During the pandemic, we stopped our programme of routine pharmacy inspections. Instead we focused on providing support to registered pharmacies on their arrangements and plans, to help manage pressures and challenges during the pandemic.

From April 2021, our inspectors are resuming visiting pharmacies that had previously not met all the standards,  focusing on those pharmacies with published inspection reports where a six month re-inspection is due. Our inspectors are visiting these pharmacies to check whether they are meeting all the standards for registered pharmacies, and the inspector will produce a report for publication. We will also be inspecting pharmacies newly entered onto the register that have not previously been inspected.

During this period, we will be continuing with our support calls to pharmacies to discuss their contingency planning.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to act quickly on any information we receive which suggests a risk to patient safety by undertaking intelligence-led inspections.

We are currently reviewing what a more risk-based and proportionate routine inspection programme would look like, which will start later in the year

How can I contact my inspector for advice about coronavirus?

You can send an email to covidqueries@pharmacyregulation.org and your query will be passed onto an inspector or other relevant member of the team.   


Employing a provisionally-registered pharmacist

What requirements do I need to meet if I employ a pharmacist on the provisional register?

We have set out the essential regulatory requirements you must meet in Employing a provisionally-registered pharmacist [PDF 484.34 KB]. The requirements include carrying out a risk assessment before the provisionally-registered pharmacist starts their role.   

I am currently employing a provisionally registered pharmacist, who sat the assessment in March 2021. What happens when they receive their results?

If you are currently employing a provisionally-registered pharmacist who sat the registration assessment in March, they will receive their results before 09.00 on Thursday 29 April.

Provisionally-registered pharmacists who pass the assessment

Provisionally-registered pharmacists who pass the assessment will be able to remain on the provisional register while they complete and submit their full registration application. They will be able to move from the provisional to the main register without a break in registration. Once their name appears on the online register, they are able to practise as a fully registered pharmacist, without previous provisional registration restrictions.

The requirements for employing a provisionally-registered pharmacist need to remain in place until their name appears on the online register.

Please make sure you are satisfied that they are fully registered before you make any changes to support or employment arrangements.

We will process applications promptly but due to the volume we expect, and the need to check supporting documentation, we cannot guarantee a specific registration date. The earliest date it will be possible to join the register for candidates who sat in March is 1 May 2021.

Provisionally-registered pharmacists who do not pass the assessment

Provisionally-registered pharmacists who are not successful in this sitting cannot continue to work as a provisionally-registered pharmacist from when they receive their results, which will be before 09:00 on Thursday 29 April. At this point we will remove them from the provisional register.

We realise this will be very disappointing for the people who do not pass. We have carefully considered whether it would be right to allow provisionally-registered pharmacists to continue working in that role for a short period of time after receiving their result. We do not believe it would be reasonable to expect them to continue in that capacity as they deal with the immediate impact of the news and do not believe it would be in the best interests of patient safety given the objective evidence that they have not, as yet, passed the assessment.

We understand that this also has implications for employers if any provisionally-registered pharmacists you employ are not successful in this sitting. We would suggest you discuss working arrangements with any provisionally-registered pharmacists you employ for 29 April and thereafter, for example scheduling the day off and/or arranging appropriate cover.

If you are in a position to continue to employ the provisionally-registered pharmacists and other candidates who do not pass the assessment in appropriate roles, we would encourage you to do so. For example, this could be as a vaccinator (if you are taking part in the COVID 19 vaccination programme), or other roles where the individual has the skills, knowledge and experience to carry out the role safely, with the appropriate supervision. We can provide further advice if needed.

We recognise the challenges for employers and we are grateful to everyone for their support in making these arrangements.


Training for temporary support staff

We have temporary support staff helping us in the pharmacy during the pandemic. Is there any training they can do to help them in their roles?

Buttercups training offer several online courses for different pharmacy support staff roles. Find out more in the COVID-19 section of their website. We recommend you also contact your current training provider for advice.   


Communicating with patients and public who don't speak English

Are there any resources available to help me communicate about COVID-19 with patients and the public visiting my pharmacy who do not speak English?

Doctors of the World has translated the latest NHS guidelines on COVID-19 into 44 languages.

You can translate the information on our website using the ReciteMe tool via the ‘Accessibility tools’ link on the top navigation bar.

You may also want to speak to local voluntary organisations representing different communities in your area, if you need specific support with translation.