Pharmacy regulator consults on annual monitoring of pharmacy education providers

The General Pharmaceutical Council has launched a consultation on collecting yearly data, including student feedback, admissions and performance, from educational organisations.
Group of students in lecture hall

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is considering annual monitoring of all pharmacy education providers, including pharmacy schools offering MPharm courses.

In a consultation published on 4 April 2024, the GPhC said that it was proposing the annual audit “to identify and address concerns together with providers in a more timely, proportionate and systematic manner”. 

The regulator is proposing to collect annual data from educational organisations that will include feedback from students, trainees, supervisors and patients; student and trainee admissions and performance; and any significant changes that might affect education and training provision, such as changes in staffing, infrastructure or financial resources.

The GPhC has also proposed collecting other data annually, including results of the National Student Survey — which is used by the Office for Students, the regulator of higher education in England — to gather students’ opinions on the quality of their courses across the UK; and GPhC registration assessment performance data.

The consultation states: “We have highlighted registration assessment performance data as one of the important pieces of data for quality assuring the initial education and training of pharmacists.

“To help individual schools of pharmacy and statutory education bodies, we are also proposing to develop GPhC registration assessment performance data reports which we will share with them regularly.

“These reports will show the performance data of their graduates for each sitting. They will also tell individual providers whether there is statistical evidence of differences in performance in the registration assessment.

“This will help both us and providers to decide whether there is a need for an appropriate action plan to deal with low performance.”

In October 2023, the GPhC said it would monitor the performance of graduates from certain pharmacy schools, following low pass rates in the summer registration assessment.

The regulator currently collects student data every year from all providers of some programmes, including the MPharm and independent prescribing programmes, which includes the numbers of admissions, equality monitoring information and student fitness-to-practise concerns.

The GPhC said the data it collects are “useful and gives some level of assurance [but they do] not have the detail we need if we are to develop the continual oversight that we want to have”.

In a statement published alongside the proposals, Mark Voce, chief strategy officer and deputy registrar at the GPhC, said: “Pharmacy education and training sets a foundation for the knowledge, skills, understanding and professional behaviours a pharmacy student must demonstrate in order to become fully qualified and join the professional register. 

“As such, it is vital that we check that training providers are meeting our standards through a quality assurance process. By doing this, we are ensuring trainees are getting the right level of education to become competent practitioners of the future. 

“The changes we are proposing will help us identify issues more effectively, act more quickly if necessary and be fairer to all providers,” he added.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said it would consult with its board members before responding to the consultation.

The consultation closes on 13 June 2024.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2024, Vol 312, No 7984;312(7984)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.308180

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