The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said it is working to provide extra exam places following reports that some candidates have been forced to book places for the March 2021 registration assessment more than 100 miles from their home.
In a statement published on 2 March 2021, Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said: “I am really sorry about the issues some candidates are experiencing with the registration assessment booking system. Making life more stressful for any candidates, particularly at this difficult time, is the last thing we want to do”.
Rudkin added that the regulator had worked with Pearson VUE, which is providing logistics for the March 2021 exam, to “identify additional capacity, particularly for candidates in Scotland”.
The past week has seen multiple reports on social media of candidates being unable to book a place at their local Pearson VUE assessment centre, with some saying they will have to travel over 100 miles to the nearest available site.
Paul Day, director of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that “our sense is it’s certainly tens of candidates [affected]; likely 100 or more, which is about 1 in 30.
“The key example is of those in Scotland being told to travel to England, which potentially could contradict lockdown rules”.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has previously written to the GPhC expressing “serious concerns” about the problems some candidates were facing, and calling for a “a full scale and public review of the process so that lessons can be learned”.
The RPS has also spoken of receiving “harrowing accounts” of candidates being “left without clarity on both their assessment times and venues”, adding that the situation is not acceptable “to us or the wider profession”.
The Society has said it will extend the RPS membership of any candidate who either does not pass, or does not sit, the assessment on 17 or 18 March 2021, noting that this year’s cohort had “been through a lot and we want to give you the best support possible”.
The British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) has set up a fundraiser to help support candidates with the cost of travel and accommodation. In an accompanying statement, the BPSA said that “some students [are] having to cross borders while others are having to travel hundreds of miles away from home during a global pandemic to sit their assessment.
“These candidates are under enough pressure and we want to help them by taking away any financial burden the registration assessment has on them,” it added.