The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said it is “double, treble, quadruple-checking” for any “flexibility” that would allow all overseas candidates to sit the March 2021 registration assessment exam in their countries of residence.
Earlier in February 2021, 69 candidates currently living in countries with a significant time difference to the UK were told by email that they would not be able to sit the exam in their home country, either in a test centre or remotely.
Speaking during a GPhC Council meeting on 11 February 2020, Mark Voce, the regulator’s director of education and standards, said it was important to “avoid a situation where there is a gap or possible leakage of questions that could compromise the overall integrity of the assessment”, but he added that that the regulator recognises “how disappointing and frustrating” it was for candidates that a solution had not been found.
Voce added that the regulator was “double, treble, quadruple-checking with our provider” around the matter, to “make sure we are doing all we possibly can” and to identify “whether any flexibility does exist”.
“We will communicate that to candidates as soon as we possibly can,” he said.
In response to a question by council member Ann Jacklin, who asked if the option for people in affected countries to sit the exam on UK time had been investigated, Voce said that “absolutely those issues have been explored”, but added that this is “one of the issues that we are obviously looking at again to see if there is any flexibility”.
Nigel Clarke, chair of the GPhC, noted a letter sent by the chairs of the three Royal Pharmaceutical Society national pharmacy boards expressing concern about the situation. “Obviously Mark and his team are looking very hard again at possible ways of mitigating this,” Clarke said, but added that “at the end of the day … we cannot be in a position where we threaten the integrity of the exam”.
“Our responsibility, at the end of the day, is to the public and we have to be absolutely sure that pharmacists on the register have indeed demonstrated that they met the standards required to do so,” he said.