More than 2,000 pharmacists are expected to leave the pharmacy register in 2019, according to forecasts from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
Papers from the GPhC’s council meeting on 7 February 2019 reveal that 2,012 pharmacists are predicted to leave the profession in 2018/2019 — an increase of 455 compared to 2017/2018.
As a result, the pharmacy register is expected to grow by only 2.2% in 2018/2019, compared with a 2.4% growth in 2017/2018.
According to the council papers, there were 57,225 registered pharmacists in the UK as of December 2018 — a slightly lower figure than the 57,303 pharmacists expected, owing to “a marginally higher number of leavers and a lower number of joiners for the year to date”.
The regulator said that the increase in leavers is a result of the “impact of the move to online registration and introduction of annual revalidation, which may have resulted in higher-than-average number of voluntary removals”.
Following the introduction of revalidation in April 2018, the GPhC said it received an influx of applications for voluntary removal from the register “to avoid the requirement to provide continuing professional development (CPD) for the period ending October 2018”.
The papers also highlighted a “marginally lower” number of registered pharmacies, with current figures showing 14,313 registered — 49 fewer than expected.
Christopher John, head of workforce development at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said that without speaking directly to those who had chosen to leave the register, he could only speculate as to their reasons. “It’s possible that the annual nature of revalidation has brought forward a decision to come off the register that would have been made at the time of the five-year cycle of submissions, had this remained in place.”
He added that some people may not have wanted to get to know a new online system for registration and entry submission.
However, he also said the new system is simpler than the previous one and those submitting before 31 October 2018 had to submit only four entries per year, rather than nine.
“It’s possible that the new requirements of peer discussion and reflective account could have been a factor,” he said, particularly for those for whom CPD entries about practising as a pharmacist do not fit into their current role.
Despite the decline, the GPhC has also forecasted a 2.9% growth in the register for 2019/2020.
A spokesperson for the GPhC said: “The growth in 2019/2020 assumes the increase in the number of leavers for 2018/2019 is a ‘one-off’ and the growth rates would be more in line with current trends.”