We have closed our offices in response to the Covid-19 outbreak and are working remotely. Please send all correspondence by email.

Q&A: Coronavirus

Please find below answers to questions we are being asked in relation to the coronavirus pandemic

We will regularly review this Q&A.

Last reviewed 19 May 2020

Questions from members of the public

Questions from pre-registration pharmacy trainees and tutors

Questions from MPharm and OSPAP students

Questions from pre-registration pharmacy technician trainees and tutors

Questions from pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy owners

Questions about temporary registration during the COVID-19 emergency    

You can also perform a keyword search using Control+F on a PC, or Command+F on a Mac. 


Questions from members of the public
 

Will my pharmacy be open as usual?

Pharmacies and pharmacy professionals are working on the frontline, under significant pressure, to support the public and patients. Some pharmacies may need to adjust their opening hours or close for periods during the day to ensure that prescriptions are dispensed safely and that all staff can take necessary breaks. Pharmacies need to make clear to the public how long they’ll be closed for and where the nearest open pharmacy is.
 

What social distancing measures are there in pharmacies?

Social distancing is the most effective protection against the spread of COVID-19. Pharmacies are making changes to support social distancing such as limiting the number of people allowed in at any one time or putting up plastic screens around the pharmacy counter.
 

A pharmacy is inflating prices for non-medicine items such as hand sanitiser or masks. Is this a breach of your standards and will you investigate this pharmacy?

We have issued a statement from our Chief Executive which makes clear that profiteering during the current challenging situation by inflating prices of shortage products risks bringing the profession into disrepute.

We are reminding pharmacy owners and pharmacy professionals that they need to continue meeting our standards at all times during the pandemic.
 

Can the pharmacy give me advice and medicines to help me treat the symptoms of coronavirus?

Do not go into a pharmacy, GP or hospital if you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms (high temperature or a new, continuous cough).

You can ask someone else to collect your medicines for you, or order online.

Read the NHS advice on what to do if you or a family member has symptoms of coronavirus
 

A pharmacy is refusing to deliver my medicines to me, even though I need to self-isolate. What should I do?

We understand the challenges you are facing in getting your medicines while you self-isolate.

We also recognise that pharmacies are working under significant pressure at the moment because of coronavirus and may not have enough capacity or resources to deliver medicines to everyone who is self-isolating.

We would recommend you ask neighbours, friends or family if they would be able to collect your medicines on your behalf and then phone you just before leaving them on the doorstep for you to collect.

There are also local and national initiatives using volunteers which can be mobilised to provide support to pharmacies with making deliveries to vulnerable patients. Your pharmacy can let you know if they are using volunteers.
 

How can I keep safe when going online for medicines or treatments?

Some people may prefer to get their medicines online during the pandemic. In conjunction with other health organisations, we have issued guidance for patients and the public on keeping safe when going online for medicines or treatment.
 

Can I still get my medicines in a dosette box / multi-compartment compliance aid pack?

You or your relatives / carers should let the pharmacy know if you need to continue to receive your medicines in a compliance pack so that you can take them safely.

Pharmacies are under a lot of pressure due to potential staff shortages, increased pharmacy workload and numerous other factors which mean they may not be able to provide medicines in multi-compartment compliance aid (MCA) packs (dosette boxes) to all patients who may usually have them. 

There are risks that come with more handling of individual medicines when assembling compliance packs which need to be balanced with the risks of patients being unable to continue to take their medicines safely. Pharmacy professionals need to exercise their professional judgement and risk assess the need to continue to supply compliance packs to vulnerable patients.
 

A pharmacy is making claims about a product that is not based on evidence and national guidance (such as claiming that certain types of face mask provide protection against COVID-19 when the evidence suggests those particular types do not). Will you investigate?

Pharmacy owners, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must provide accurate and evidence-based information about products and make sure people have all the relevant information in a way they can understand. This will allow people to make informed decisions and choices.

The pharmacy owner would need to undertake due diligence to make sure that any products they sell are fit for purpose and make sure they follow national requirements and guidance on advertising and marketing products.

We expect pharmacy owners to consider relevant guidance from appropriate bodies such as the MHRA, Public Health England and Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) when providing information on products.

Please let us know about any pharmacies that you believe are making inappropriate claims about a product by raising a concern: we will then consider what action to take. Please also report this to the MHRA. Advertising a product or making claims for a product that is not fit for purpose could also be a matter for the Advertising Standards Authority or Trading Standards, so you may also want to raise a concern with these bodies.
 

A pharmacy is selling COVID-19 testing kits that have not been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority and/or do not have the CE mark. What action will you take?

Please let us know about any pharmacies that appear to be supplying products that do not appear to adhere to guidance published by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Public Health England, by raising a concern. We will then consider what action to take. Please also report this to the MHRA.

Are pharmacies taking part in the Safe Space initiative?

We are encouraging all pharmacies to consider becoming a Safe Space, to help people experiencing domestic abuse access vital support they may need.  

Pharmacies are already playing a vital role in supporting the healthcare needs of patients and the public during the COVID 19 pandemic. With the availability of private consultation rooms, pharmacies are one of the few community spaces that are open with the facilities to support people who may be experiencing domestic abuse and need help.

Pharmacies can become a Safe Space today by following the simple steps on uksaysnomore.org/safespaces and email uksaysnomore@hestia.org to notify them that you have become a Safe Space.

Pharmacies participating in the scheme will display a poster within the pharmacy. This poster encourages people needing help to go to the pharmacy counter and ask to use their consultation room.
 

What support will be provided?

People will be able to use the consultation room in the pharmacy to access dedicated support:

  • 24-hour National domestic abuse helpline: 0808 2000 247
  • Men’s advice line: 0808 801 032
  • Scotland - Domestic Abuse & Forced Marriage Helpline (freephone 24/7): 0800 027 123
  • Wales - Live Fear Free Helpline (freephone 24/7): 0808 801 0800
  • Northern Ireland - Domestic & Sexual Abuse: 0808 802 141
  • Signposting to download free mobile app Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.       

 

Current MPharm and OSPAP Students

I’m an MPharm or OSPAP student. Can I start work or volunteer at a pharmacy?

It’s important that you prioritise sitting any assessments and finishing your academic work, as you will need to complete your qualification to be eligible to start pre-registration training. Please consider your academic commitments carefully before deciding if and when you could work or volunteer at a pharmacy.

Make sure that you are fully aware of and understand the risks of working within a healthcare environment during this period, both for you and the people you live with, and make sure that you follow government guidelines.

To find a role, contact the relevant organisation for your country:

In England, you can register your interest through the HEE Pharmacy Student COVID-19 Deployment Survey which is available on the HEE website.

In Scotland, student recruitment for support with COVID 19 is being organised through the NHS national recruitment portal for hospital and community sectors.

In Wales, you can register your interest through The COVID Hub Wales.

Your employer should make sure that the activities you carry out are:

  • properly described in a contract of employment, honorary contract, or volunteer agreement
  • appropriate to your level of experience and training: you should not be asked to work beyond your competence
  • properly supervised by a designated manager or supervisor

Working or volunteering where you plan to train

If you have a pre-registration training place arranged for the 2020/21 pre-registration year, you may be considering contacting your training organisation to see if you can start working there earlier than planned. 

The earliest date you can start your approved pre-registration training placement and start following your training plan is 13 July 2020. Any time you spend at your placement before this date will not count towards your official training time.
 

Why has the opening date for the application for the preregistration training scheme changed to 1 June 2020? Does this mean that the training year will be delayed?

We have changed the application opening date to 1 June as we understand that due to the pandemic, some pre-registration trainees may need to change their training arrangements, such as their start date. 

To avoid applicants having to make changes to their training details after submitting their application, which could delay the process, we are opening the application later this year. 

The earliest date you can start your training is 13 July 2020 – this has not changed. We advise you to check your agreed start and finish dates with your training provider before submitting your application. 

If you provide all the information in the correct format, and there are no issues with your application, we will be able to process and confirm your online application in good time for you to start your training. 

 
 

Pharmacy technician pre-registration

How long will it take to process my application for initial registration as a pharmacy technician?

We are still processing completed applications for initial registration as a pharmacy technician, but there may be some delays because we currently have limited access to any post sent to our offices. Once you have your certificates and have had your identity documents certified, please apply online, upload all documents to the portal and post the certified documents to the GPhC offices. We are visiting the offices on a regular basis to process all certified documents sent to us. We would estimate that it will take four to six weeks to process your application, from the point your certified documents arrive at our offices.
 

What should I do if my course provider is not currently able to send me my certificate?

We know that some trainees who have completed their training are experiencing challenges in obtaining certificates from course providers. We have arranged with course providers for them to send us their pass lists directly, so you do not need to provide certificates with your application at the moment.
 

Do I still need to get my identity documents certified by a legal professional during lockdown?

We do still need your identity documents to be certified by a legal professional for your initial application as a pharmacy technician. We recognise some trainees are experiencing challenges in having their identity documents certified by a solicitor or other legal professional. We would suggest that you contact all local solicitors and also speak to your current employer, who may be able to assist in relation to identifying a legal professional who can help.

We are also currently reviewing options for a new identity verification process and will provide further details on this page once the new process is introduced. 

 

What should I do if I am unable to complete my training in the planned timelines because of the impact of the pandemic? (For example, I am shielding or have childcare responsibilities)

If you are unable to complete your training for any reason then you should talk to your tutor or mentor and to your employer as early as possible. Education providers are able to be flexible on deadlines, and there is flexibility over the 2 years of training to catch up if you need to. If you are concerned about your employment contract coming to an end before you complete your training then speak to your employer as soon as you can to explore the options that may be available to you. 

  


Questions from pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy owners
 

Who can get tested for COVID-19 and how can we arrange a test?

Arrangements have been put in place by governments and health services in England, Scotland and Wales to enable frontline pharmacy professionals and other members of the pharmacy team, and in some cases members of their households, to get tested.

Arrange a test in England

Please visit the Coronavirus: getting tested page on gov.uk for more information on how to book a test in England.

Any employer that has any queries should contact their local resilience forum, their associated national government department/agency, or the Department of Health and Social Care at opshub@dhsc.gov.uk

Arrange a test in Scotland

Please visit the Coronavirus: getting tested page on the gov.uk website for more information on how to book a test in Scotland.

Please visit the Scottish Government website for more information about testing in Scotland.

Information on how pharmacy teams can access testing in each Health board area is also available on the Community Pharmacy Scotland website.

Arrange a test in Wales

Please visit the Welsh Government website for more information about testing in Wales.

Information on how pharmacy teams can access testing in each Health board is available for contractors on the Community Pharmacy Wales website, on the health board pages in the COVID section of their website. You will need to log in to be able to access the information.
 

What procedures do I need to follow during the coronavirus pandemic?

The UK Government, Devolved Administrations and the NHS in each country have all issued official guidance and advice.

We expect pharmacy professionals and pharmacy owners to keep up-to-date with the official advice and guidance and to follow it in practice- in particular, the standard operating procedure for community pharmacies in England and the guidance for community pharmacies in Scotland.

See the key advice and information in our recent Regulate article on COVID-19
 

Do I still need to complete revalidation during the coronavirus pandemic?

Due to the challenges and pressures on the pharmacy sector at this time, and the increasing number of cases of COVID-19, we have decided to postpone the revalidation submission date for those registrants who are due to submit between 20 March and 31 August 2020 (inclusive).

If you have a submission date between March and August 2020, you will need to renew your registration but you will not need to submit any revalidation. When you renew in 2021, you will need to submit a full record of six entries. You will not need to submit any of the entries previously due for submission in 2020.

We will review the situation for registrants due to submit their revalidation records after 31 August 2020 at a later date and will keep you updated.

If your revalidation submission date is due in the next few weeks you may receive a message that you have missed your submission deadline. Please ignore this message; it will be removed from your record as we update our systems over the next 4-6 weeks.
 

If I don’t need to submit my revalidation records till my next submission date in 2021, does this mean that I don’t need to do revalidation?

No, while time may be more limited during the pandemic, and you will be busier than usual, we expect you to keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date and to reflect on your learning. You should still record, where possible, your professional development activities and learning, the only change is that you are not required to submit revalidation on your normal submission date.
 

If I am not required to submit my revalidation records because my submission is between March and August 2020, do I also not need to renew my registration?

We will review the situation for registrants due to submit their revalidation records after 31 August 2020 at a later date and will keep you updated.

I am going on an extended period of leave and my submission date is after 31 August 2020, do I need to submit revalidation?

We will review the situation for registrants due to submit their revalidation records after 31 August 2020 at a later date and will keep you updated.
 

I am returning from an extended period of leave and my submission date is after 31 August 2020, do I need to do revalidation?

We will review the situation for registrants due to submit their revalidation records after 31 August 2020 at a later date and will keep you updated.

We expect all registrants to keep up-to-date with developments, and reflect on their learning, particularly with reference to COVID-19. We recommend, where possible, registrants maintain and record their professional development activities and learning.
 

What will happen about next year? Will I have less time to do and submit my revalidation records?

If your submission date is between March and August 2020 you will not have to submit your revalidation records this year. Instead you will be required to submit your full revalidation record of four CPD records, one peer discussion and one reflective account on your normal submission due date in 2021.

We will review the situation for registrants due to submit their revalidation records after 31 August 2020 at a later date and will keep you updated.
 

Is the GPhC still processing my application and how long will it take?

In line with advice from the UK Government, the vast majority of our staff are now working from home. We are working hard to make sure we are continuing to provide all of our regulatory services and functions, even though we are doing it at a distance. Some applications may take longer to process because of the different ways in which we are having to work in the current situation.

If you have recently submitted a completed form by post which reached us after Friday 13 March, we may take longer to process it as we currently have limited access to our post.

If you are planning to submit an application which does not require documents to be posted, please send a scanned copy to us by email at the address on the form.

If you need to post documents with your application, please send a scanned copy of your application and supporting documents application to the email address on the form and wait for confirmation that we have received it and that it is clearly legible, before posting the hard copy to us. This will also provide you with a digital copy of your application for your records.

We are collecting post from the office regularly, but would encourage you wherever possible to contact us via email at info@pharmacyregulation.org.
 

Will fitness to practise investigations continue?

Fitness to practise investigations are continuing during this time. We will be prioritising our investigations work, but we anticipate that unfortunately there may be some delays in making progress as quickly as we would like. This is because we will have limited access to our office facilities, for example receiving incoming post, and reduced resources as staff adapt to working under different arrangements during this time. We are also reliant on third parties to provide us with information, many of whom are frontline staff, and they too are likely to be affected by current events.
 

How will you be dealing with fitness to practise hearings- are planned hearings going ahead?

Public protection and public safety are our overriding objective, and with this in mind there are some hearings that are more critical than others. On that basis we have decided to prioritise interim order applications, interim order reviews and principal hearing reviews. Both interim order applications and interim order reviews can proceeding on papers, if all parties agree, so we will seek to gain that agreement.

Principal hearing reviews are often contested and need a formal hearing as result. We have a handful of cases in this category in the coming months and where these are contested, we will look to deal with each matter on a case by case basis.

Our prioritisation plan will mean that principal hearings listed for the next two months will be postponed.

All Investigating Committee meetings will proceed remotely.

Find out more about how we are managing hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic [PDF 136 KB]
 

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

We have stopped routine inspections of pharmacies and producing inspection reports. Find out more about how are inspectors are working with pharmacy teams.

We will continue to act quickly on any information we receive which suggests a risk to patient safety within a particular pharmacy.
 

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.
 

High numbers of our patients are having to self-isolate and so can’t collect their medicines. Can their neighbours or other volunteers pick up their medicines for them?

We recognise that during the coronavirus pandemic you may have to work differently, including in relation to getting medicines to your patients.

Please follow guidance from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), PSNC and other pharmacy organisations in relation to arrangements for collection and delivery.

Please follow all advice from the government and NHS in your country; keep up-to-date with their resources.

Please contact the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, Community Pharmacy Scotland or Community Pharmacy Wales for more information and advice. They are liaising directly with government on issues such as protective equipment and procedures.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has also produced a range of relevant resources and guidance on their website.

You can also contact our inspectors for advice. 

The responsible pharmacist has a duty to secure the safe and effective running of the pharmacy in relation to the retail sale and supply of all medicines.

We recognise there may be situations where the responsible pharmacist unavoidably has to leave the pharmacy at short notice part-way through the day, (if they are unwell and need to self-isolate, for example).

Where no locum cover can be secured at the pharmacy, and recognising the potential effects of the current pandemic, it would be in the patient’s best interest for medicines already dispensed to be supplied from the pharmacy rather than not supplied at all, even though this may not be in strict accordance with the law as normally understood.

Such an approach should only be adopted for a short time period, where other options have been exhausted. Apart from such exceptional circumstances, even in the current pandemic situation, arrangements must be made for a pharmacist to be at the pharmacy, including to undertake the responsible pharmacist role and supervise the sale and supply of prescription-only medicines and pharmacy-only medicines.

You can read more about our approach to regulation in challenging circumstances in our recent joint statement with the PSNI.
 

I have noticed that locums are charging higher rates than normal. Is this something you can investigate or that you have a view on?

We would remind all pharmacy professionals and pharmacy owners of their responsibilities to meet our standards at all times and to make the care of patients and the public their first concern.

We expect all professionals to act in accordance with professional standards and never more so than in these extraordinary times.

It is important that everyone plays their part in ensuring that pharmacies across England, Scotland and Wales can continue to operate safely so that patients and members of the public can get the medicines they need.

Profiteering to take selfish advantage of the current challenging situation risks bringing the profession into disrepute at a time when public confidence generally is so fragile, and so important.
 

Can we split packs of 100 paracetamol for sale as a Pharmacy (P) medicine, as we cannot get supplies of packs of 16 and 32 paracetamol?

We understand that pharmacies may be experiencing difficulties in obtaining over the counter (OTC) pack sizes of paracetamol from wholesalers at this time.

It is possible for pharmacies to break down larger packs to prepare smaller packs to sell to people in this situation who need them. Pharmacy professionals should use their professional judgement to decide whether supplies are appropriate to be made, taking into account the circumstances.

It is recommended that any packs supplied consist of whole strips, either packs of 20 or 30. And where large packs of loose tablets are to be used, it is recommended that a pack size of up to a maximum of 32 is supplied.

These packs should not be placed on the open shelves for patients to select. Instead, place notices at the usual location to inform patients that supplies are available from the pharmacist or the pharmacy team at the pharmacy’s medicines counter.

These assembled smaller packs must be labelled with the following:

  • the name, dosage form and strength of the product
  • directions for use of the product
  • precautions relating to the use of the product
  • the date on which the product is sold or supplied
  • the name and address of the person who sells or supplies the product (that is, the name and address details of the pharmacy, which would usually appear on a dispensing label)

So that people have the necessary safety information to use the medicines safely, include the following:

  • the wording 'Store out of the reach and sight of children'
  • the expiry date of the medicine (which is even more important when packs consist of loose tablets and not blister strips)
  • if possible, the batch number and details of the manufacturer, (or that this information is recorded at the pharmacy)
  • if possible, the capital letter “P” within a rectangle, with no other marks in the rectangle
For paracetamol products specifically

If the product contains paracetamol, make sure the following wording is included as well as the information above:

  • 'Contains paracetamol' if the word 'paracetamol' doesn't appear on the outer and immediate packaging
  • 'Do not take more medicine than the label tells you to. If you do not get better, talk to your doctor', next to either the directions for use or the recommended dosage

Unless the product containing paracetamol is wholly or mainly intended for children twelve years old or younger, include the words: 'Do not take anything else containing paracetamol while taking this medicine', and:

  • if a package leaflet accompanying the product includes the words: 'Talk to a doctor at once if you take too much of this medicine even if you feel well. This is because too much paracetamol can cause delayed, serious liver damage', add the words: 'Talk to a doctor at once if you take too much of this medicine, even if you feel well'; or
  • if no package leaflet accompanies the product or the package leaflet does not include those words, add the words 'Talk to a doctor at once if you take too much of this medicine, even if you feel well. This is because too much paracetamol can cause delayed, serious liver damage'.

If the product contains paracetamol and is wholly or mainly intended for children twelve years old or younger, include the words: 'Do not give anything else containing paracetamol while giving this medicine' and:

  • if a package leaflet accompanying the product includes the words, 'Talk to a doctor at once if your child takes too much of this medicine even if they seem well. This is because too much paracetamol can cause delayed, serious liver damage', add the words: 'Talk to a doctor at once if your child takes too much of this medicine, even if they seem well' or
  • if no package leaflet accompanies the product or the package leaflet does not include those words, the words “Talk to a doctor at once if your child takes too much of this medicine, even if they seem well. This is because too much paracetamol can cause delayed, serious liver damage'.

Ideally people should be provided with a package (patient information) leaflet with each supply.

Please also refer to the standards for registered pharmacies [PDF 985 KB] (particularly Principles 1, 2, and 4), and the standards for pharmacy professionals [PDF 375 KB].

It is important to provide safe, person-centred care, providing all the relevant information in a way that the person can understand.

We would also recommend that you contact your indemnity provider for further advice.
 

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.
 

I currently work in a non-patient-facing role but want to help out in the NHS or community pharmacy during the COVID-19 emergency. What do I need to consider and how can I find a role?

You would have to work within the limits of your knowledge and skills and refer to others when needed, if you chose to return to a patient-facing role. You would also need to make sure you had appropriate indemnity insurance for your practice – your current indemnity provider (if you have one) and/or your new employer should help with this.

Please find below information on how to find a role in your country.

Roles in England

Please complete this survey managed by NHS England/ Improvement if you are interested in working for the NHS or in community pharmacy in England. More information is available for returning pharmacy professionals on issues including indemnity, pensions and deployment on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website.

Roles in Scotland

The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland, Rose Marie Parr, has written a letter appealing to pharmacy professionals on the GPhC’s temporary register to return to practice.

Please visit the COVID-19 accelerated recruitment page on the NHS Scotland Careers website and register on the portal if you would like to work for NHSScotland

Please also visit the Scottish Government website for more information on returning to practise in Scotland.

Roles in Wales

Please complete this survey managed by NHS England/ Improvement if you are interested in working for the NHS in Wales. Your data will be passed onto NHS Wales. More information is also available on the Welsh Government website.

If you are interested in working in community pharmacy in Wales, please email info@cpwales.org.uk with your name, phone number, email address, location you are interested in working in and any other relevant information.
 

Can you provide any refresher training to help me prepare to go back into a patient-facing role?

Please contact the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education, which has produced a specfic guide is to support pharmacy professionals in returning to pharmacy practice via the temporary register, Health Education and Improvement Wales or NHS Education for Scotland, depending on which country you live in, as they can signpost you to relevant training and resources.

guidance for pharmacy workforce about COVID-19 which you may find useful if you are returning to a patient-facing role.

Training providers such as Buttercups are also delivering free short courses to help pharmacies during COVID-19, with pandemic training for additional non-pharmacy trained staff and delivery personnel.
 

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.
 

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.
 

The Government is introducing emergency measures on the supply of controlled drugs. What support is available for pharmacy professionals and pharmacy owners to help them implement these changes safely and effectively?

It is important to note that these emergency measures are not yet in effect. The emergency measures proposed by the Government aim to help make sure that patients continue to receive the controlled drugs that they need during the pandemic. Further information is available about the proposals in this letter from the Home Secretary to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

We look forward to receiving further details about the final measures and when they may be implemented.

We agree with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that pharmacists and pharmacy owners will need additional support and guidance to help them implement these changes consistently, safely and effectively. We are ready to work closely and collaboratively with governments across Great Britain, as well as other organisations such as the RPS, to develop this guidance and support pharmacists and their teams.
 

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.   


Questions about temporary registration during the COVID-19 emergency
 

I'm a pharmacist or pharmacy technician who voluntarily removed myself from our register, or decided not to renew my registration. Can I re-join the register so that I can practise during the outbreak of COVID-19?

In an emergency, we have powers under the Pharmacy Order 2010 to temporarily register fit, proper and suitably experienced people to act as pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to help protect public health.

Read our policy on temporary registration arrangements [PDF 156 KB]

The temporary register includes pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who have voluntarily removed themselves from the GPhC register or were removed for non-renewal in the last three years.

We have contacted the people in those categories to explain what this may mean for them and offer them the option to opt-out from being on the temporary register.
 

What are the requirements for temporary registrants?

Anyone who is entered temporarily on the register will be required to meet the standards for pharmacy professionals and have the appropriate indemnity insurance.
 

How can I find a role as a pharmacy professional now I’m on the temporary register?

Roles in England

Please complete this survey managed by NHS England/ Improvement if you are interested in working for the NHS or in community pharmacy in England. More information is available for returning pharmacy professionals on issues including indemnity, pensions and deployment on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website.

Roles in Scotland

The Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland, Rose Marie Parr, has written a letter appealing to pharmacy professionals on the GPhC’s temporary register to return to practice.

Please visit the COVID-19 accelerated recruitment page on the NHS Scotland Careers website and register on the portal if you would like to work for NHSScotland

Please also visit the Scottish Government website for more information on returning to practise in Scotland.

Roles in Wales

Please complete this survey managed by NHS England/ Improvement if you are interested in working for the NHS in Wales. Your data will be passed onto NHS Wales. More information is also available on the Welsh Government website.

If you are interested in working in community pharmacy in Wales, please email info@cpwales.org.uk with your name, phone number, email address, location you are interested in working in and any other relevant information.
 

How can I find out about practical details about deployment, pay and pensions?

If you are interested in working as a pharmacy professional during the emergency, please also visit the following websites for further information about issues including deployment, pay, pensions or indemnity insurance:

NHS England and NHS Improvement website

Scottish Government website

Welsh Government website
 

I’m an employer - what do I need to do if I want to employ someone on the temporary register?

If you are a pharmacy owner or employer, when employing a pharmacy professional on the temporary register, you must make sure:

  • the person’s name appears on the temporary register
  • you carry out appropriate identity checks for all staff they employ
  • all staff have the right knowledge, skills and competence for their role and the tasks they carry out, including in relation to their English language skills
  • all staff have appropriate indemnity insurance for the tasks they carry out, including pharmacy professionals on the temporary register
  • all staff they employ are fit to practise in that particular role

We have produced some guidance to explain your responsibilities.
 

What if I left the register over three years ago, but still want to re-join the register to help out during the pandemic?

We are currently prioritising those with recent experience, meaning those who have left the register within the last three years.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who left the register over three years ago and who want to re-join the register would have to meet our requirements for returning to the register.

There will be many roles within pharmacy and the wider health service which would not require registration but where your skills and experience could be used. See our guide to working in pharmacy when not on the register which provides useful information on what roles you can take on when not on the register, and what tasks and roles can only be carried by registered pharmacists.Please visit the NHS website in your country for more details.

We are keeping our temporary registration policy under review, and are in contact with the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS and other stakeholders.
 

How will the temporary register work in practice?

The temporary register is available on our website and is separate from the main register.

We are contacting those who have been added to the temporary register via email to let them know that they now have temporary registration and explain what they need to consider if they do want to practise during the emergency.

We will provide updates on any developments via our website, so please keep checking the homepage for more information.

And we will signpost to information provided by the NHS and other organisations which will provide answers to questions about practical arrangements for employment.
 

Can I help without being in a directly patient-facing role?

Yes. We understand there will be opportunities for non-patient facing roles, such as working with NHS 111. Please visit the NHS website in your country for further details.
 

Will I have to pay a fee to go back onto the register?

No, you will not have to pay any fee to temporarily return to the register.
 

Will I be expected to complete records for revalidation, if I am called to assist with the pandemic?

We understand this is an unprecedented situation that is highly challenging. We do not expect pharmacy professionals who have been placed on the temporary register to carry out and record revalidation activities.
 

Can you provide any refresher training to help me prepare to go back into practice?

Please contact the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education, which has produced a specfic guide is to support pharmacy professionals in returning to pharmacy practice via the temporary register, Health Education and Improvement Wales or NHS Education for Scotland, depending on which country you live in, as they can signpost you to relevant training and resources.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has produced guidance for pharmacy workforce about COVID-19 which you may find useful if you are returning to practice.
 

Do I need to send in an application or provide documents before I can re-join the register?

You will not need to apply to the GPhC for registration or provide any documents to us.

We would add anyone eligible for temporary registration who has not opted out after an emergency is declared. Your employer would carry out identity checks, and may also ask for other documentation.
 

What would happen if a fitness to practise concern was raised about me while I was practising on the temporary register?

Where a concern is raised about a pharmacy professional with temporary registration, it will be considered on the specific facts of the case, taking into account the factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working and the risk to patient and public safety. We will also take account of any relevant information about resource, guidelines or protocols in place at the time. 

The fitness to practice concern process for temporary registrants

We will quickly assess the nature and extent of the risk to patient safety. This will be done by undertaking a swift and thorough review of the available evidence to understand the seriousness of the concern and if there is a real risk to patients. We will assess whether the professional is able to carry out their role safely and effectively or whether continuing to allow temporary registration would undermine trust and confidence in the professions.

Once we have reviewed the evidence, we will administratively remove a professional with temporary registration if the evidence suggests that removal is:

  • necessary to protect the public
  • otherwise in the public interest
  • in the interests of the pharmacy professional

Administrative removal means that the registrar will immediately remove the person from the temporary register and they will no longer be able to practise as a pharmacy professional.

If we decide to not administratively remove then the professional will be eligible to remain in practice until the need for temporary professionals passes and they are removed with all others.

Find out more about how we will deal with concerns about pharmacy professionals with temporary registration in our guidance
 

I’m a pre-registration trainee or a pharmacy student and would like to help. Is it possible for me to join the temporary register?

There are currently no plans to add pre-registration trainees or students to the temporary register.

There will be many roles within pharmacy and the wider health service which would not require registration but where your skills and experience could be used. Please visit the NHS website in your country for more details.
 

I’m an overseas pharmacist and would like to come and work in the UK during the pandemic. Can I join the temporary register?

The following advice is subject to any travel restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19.

If you are an EEA qualified pharmacist, under EU legislation EEA qualified pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can work in the UK on a temporary and occasional basis.

You would not make a full application for registration as required by the General Pharmaceutical Council Registration Rules, and therefore cannot be registered in either Part 1 or Part 2 of the register. Instead, you could be entered in Part 4 of our register.

You can find out more about temporary and occasional provision in the registration section of our website.

If you are a overseas pharmacist from outside the EEA, you would have to meet our requirements for registration, which include an OSPAP course, before being eligible for registration, so you would not be able to come and work as a pharmacist or pharmacy technician immediately. You could however apply for other roles within the health and care service that do not require registration.
 

Have you done any further work to understand what settings people on the temporary register may be working in, and how many people are intending to work?

We have conducted a survey to help us understand how many pharmacy professionals on the temporary register will be working during the pandemic, and what settings they are planning to work in. We have received 1,309 responses to the survey (a 21% response rate). Follow this link to see the report's findings. [PDF 253 KB]