The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) says it is in “ongoing discussions” about using the registration exam as the final assessment of a proposed pharmacy degree apprenticeship programme.
In a statement to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 16 May 2022, the GPhC said talks were taking place with the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA), after it contacted the GPhC “to propose that the registration assessment could form the basis of the end-point assessment for the pharmacist apprenticeship and the GPhC could become the end-point assessment organisation”.
This comes after Helen Porter, pharmacy dean for London and South East at Health Education England, who also leads nationally on pharmacy apprenticeships, told delegates at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress on 14 May 2022 that the development of the pharmacy degree apprenticeship is “in motion”.
“There is an employer group working on the development of pharmacist degree apprenticeship and that work is ongoing,” she said, adding that the employer group “is working to move to consultation on degree apprenticeship”.
“The other thing that we have been working on with the group is in relation to the General Pharmaceutical Council and their role as the end point assessment organisation for the apprenticeship and, what is the preregistration exam, being the end point assessment for that,” she continued.
The employer group, which includes multiples Boots, LloydsPharmacy, Rowlands and Well, first proposed a pharmacy degree apprenticeship in April 2019.
However, the initial plans were met with criticism, and the IFA announced in May 2019 that the group should be expanded to include representatives from the wider pharmacy industry.
Further proposals were published in October 2019, but it was announced in January 2020 that development of the proposed pharmacy degree apprenticeship had been paused for a second time to allow “misconceptions” about degree apprenticeships to be addressed.
Talks then restarted in June 2021, following a further hiatus owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GPhC’s statement clarified that the criteria for initial registration as a pharmacist include “successful completion of a Great Britain or Northern Ireland accredited four-year MPharm degree; and successful completion of a 52-week programme of foundation training in Great Britain; and passing a registration assessment conducted by the GPhC”.
“Any proposed pharmacy degree apprenticeship must meet these criteria to ensure that the required standards are met,” the statement continued.
“This means people undertaking the pharmacy degree apprenticeship would have to sit the same registration assessment as people going through the usual MPharm degree route.”
The GPhC said it would provide a further update on the end-point assessment for the apprenticeship programme “once a final decision has been made”.