Pharmacists who fail their registration assessment will be offered alternative jobs or time off, employer says

Exclusive: Multiple offers support to provisionally registered pharmacists who will have to stop practising if they do not pass their assessment.
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Well Pharmacy, the UK’s third biggest community pharmacy chain, has said it will offer provisionally registered pharmacists alternative employment if they fail their registration assessment.

Results of the March 2021 assessment are due to be published on 29 April 2021. Any provisionally registered pharmacist who does not pass the exam will be unable to practise as a pharmacist from 09:00 on that day. Candidates have been told they will receive their results before 09:00.

Well Pharmacy told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it would offer an “individual” solution to its provisionally registered pharmacists until they are able to retake the assessment in July 2021.

“For any registrants that are unsuccessful after sitting their first exam, together with our field management team, we will find a solution that meets their individual needs and continue to support them until they can resit the exam in July,” Jessica Hall, people development manager for Well Pharmacy, said.

This support could mean continued employment in pharmacy support roles, “but for others, they may choose to take some time off after a demanding year”, Hall said, adding that all provisional registrants who sat the March 2021 assessment will be given a day’s paid leave on results day “so they can focus on processing their results, whatever they may be”.

Hall also said that the multiple was “disappointed the next available assessment sitting has been delayed by a month, as this will directly impact on those who fail or did not feel ready and able to sit the exam in March”.

A total of 2,670 candidates sat the rearranged General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) registration exam on 17 and 18 March 2021.

In papers prepared for a GPhC meeting earlier in 2021, it “conservatively” estimated that there may be a 60% pass rate for the March 2021 assessment. This could mean as many as 1,000 provisionally registered pharmacists would have to stop working as pharmacists from 29 April 2021.

A spokesperson for LloydsPharmacy, the UK’s second biggest pharmacy multiple, said that “whilst we have every confidence in our provisionally registered pharmacists passing their registration assessment, there may be a few who are not successful this time around.

“We have been carefully planning our resources to ensure our usual high levels of customer service and patient care is maintained on the 29th April, and will be discussing options directly with any individuals who do not pass the assessment.”

In a statement published on 18 April 2021, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association urged employers to “take every effort to treat all those who do not pass fairly, sensitively and with dignity.

“Not just because that is the decent thing for employers to do, but at a time that the role of pharmacists is now on the shortage occupation list, employers should be extremely mindful of the impact their actions will have on their reputation with potential future employees.”

In a statement published on 27 February 2021, the Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists asked employers to “extend their employment for provisionally registered pharmacists until they have an opportunity to re-sit the registration examination in summer 2021”.

Gail Fleming, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director of education and professional development, said that pharmacists who did not pass the March assessment would have their RPS membership extended free of charge.

“We have also organised an event on 5 May for those who would like help in planning their next steps after an unsuccessful result,” she said.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2021, Vol 306, No 7948;306(7948)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.80746