Disparity between pass rates for community and hospital trainees is cause for concern, says pharmacy regulator

The General Pharmaceutical Council says the difference in pass rates for community and hospital trainees was particularly pronounced in the June 2015 assessment paper.


The continuing difference in pass rates between hospital and community trainees for the pharmacy registration assessment has been described as a “cause for concern” by the professional regulator.

Out of the candidates who sat the assessment paper in June 2015, the pass rate for trainees from the hospital sector was 91% — 20 percentage points higher than the pass rate for their peers from the community sector.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) says hospital trainees traditionally have a better pass rate than those in the community but the difference between the two sectors this year was “particularly pronounced”.

A report on the results of the assessment, which was presented to the GPhC at its meeting on 10 September 2015, says: “This persistent disparity is a cause for concern but further work needs to be undertaken before drawing more definitive conclusions about causation, given the size of and variety in the community pharmacy training sector.”

The GPhC also says there were “significant” differences in the results when candidates’ ethnic origin was considered.

Chinese and white British candidates shared the highest pass rate of 89%, while candidates who were Black African came bottom with a pass rate of 55%. The GPhC has commissioned qualitative research into the experiences of Black African candidates and will report back on its findings.

The differences in results across the sectors and candidates’ ethnic origin will be among the issues discussed at a one-day event on 10 November 2015 organised by the regulator to look at professional training and education.

“The event will be bringing stakeholders together to look at the future of education and training and [to discover] what these figures tell us about pre-regs and the MPharm and what we should be paying attention to,” says the GPhC’s chief executive Duncan Rudkin.

Rudkin was quick to defend the GPhC’s decision to make public the assessment paper pass rates of individual pharmacy schools for the first time. Similar data will be published in subsequent years, he confirmed.

The data were released in the name of transparency, says Rudkin.

“What people do with the data is up to them,” says Rudkin. “There are many complex factors which contribute to a school’s performance. Publishing the data is an important contribution to informing the evidence base but it is not our intention, and never has been our intention, to publish it in the form of a league table.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 26 September 2015, Vol 295, No 7881;295(7881):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20069373

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