Provisionally registered pharmacists and the 2021 GPhC pre-registration assessment

Provisionally registered pharmacists and the 2021 GPhC pre-registration assessment

February 25, 2021

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has been encouraging provisionally registered pharmacists/pre-registration candidates to consider carefully whether they are fit or ready to sit the GPhC assessment in March this year, or whether they should wait and give themselves more time to prepare. It will be in candidates’ best interests that they make the right decision and pass at the first attempt. Community pharmacy contractors are advised to be familiar with the issues.

UPDATE 15th MARCH: The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has announced that the provisional registration of pharmacists will be extended to January 2022, to enable trainees from the 2020/21 cohort to apply to join the provisional register once their training is satisfactorily completed. The announcement was made as part of an update confirming the remaining registration assessment dates for 2021.

Provisional registration

Last year, after postponement of the summer 2020 pre-registration assessment, the GPhC enabled eligible pre-registration trainees to register as provisionally registered pharmacists. The GPhC decision included consideration of the needs of patients, the NHS and the pharmacy workforce at a crucial time, and the need to safeguard the welfare of students and trainees and enhance the transition from trainee to (fully registered) pharmacist. Provisionally registered pharmacists have been able to practise subject to strict GPhC guidance setting out their role and the support required from pharmacy employers.

Fit to sit the assessment

The GPhC has indicated that candidates should use their judgement when deciding whether to sit the assessment in March (even if they have applied already) and should only sit if they feel fit or ready to do so, bearing in mind they could decide to sit the assessment in the summer this year. Reasons why a candidate may decide not to sit the assessment include the impact that the pandemic has had on their health and wellbeing, or on their ability to prepare adequately for the assessment, for example, because of pressures at work or caring responsibilities at home.

Candidates who do not feel fit to sit the assessment in March can instead decide to sit in the summer, and provisional registration will continue until candidates sitting in the summer receive their results. For more information see GPhC’s Registration assessment: “essential step towards full registration”.

Employer support

The support expected from employers is set out in GPhC guidance and includes, for example, identifying the amount and nature of study time needed by a candidate, in addition to the candidate’s annual leave or other free time; and in anticipation of the assessment, encouraging the candidate to proactively identify their own development needs and how they themselves will fulfil them. The GPhC has said it is grateful to employers and pharmacy teams for all their efforts to support candidates.

Impact of failing the assessment

The current preregistration assessments are listed on 17th and 18th March 2021 and notification of results is likely to be 6 weeks after the assessment. An individual who fails the assessment (once notified) will not be eligible to remain on the GPhC register – an individual failing the assessment will be neither a provisionally registered pharmacist nor a pre-registration pharmacist. The individual will need to sit and pass the registration assessment at a future date in order to return to the register – and, subject to all registration requirements, register as a pharmacist.

The GPhC will soon provide more information on the details of the process, its planned communication with candidates and employers, and the summer 2021 assessment.

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