The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said it will monitor the performance of graduates from three pharmacy schools in the November 2023 registration assessment, following low pass rates in the summer 2023 sitting.
A report on the exam, included in papers prepared for the GPhC’s council meeting on 12 October 2023, said that 2,805 candidates sat the assessment in June 2023, with a pass rate of 76.6%.
The regulator said this was “comparable to the pass rates for previous assessments taken in the summer, when most candidates sit the assessment at the end of their foundation training year”.
However, the report noted that “three schools of pharmacy have had lower pass rates than other institutions”, with the GPhC identifying the University of Hertfordshire, University of Lincoln and University of Portsmouth as “a cause for concern”.
The council papers said the regulator would “evaluate their graduates’ performance in the November  sitting and then take further action to address this”.
Data from the report show that the pass rate for a first attempt at the MPharm assessment exam in June 2023 among the 67 candidates from the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Pharmacy was 59.70%, with the University of Portsmouth’s 64 candidates achieving a 57.81% pass rate, and the 30 candidates from University of Lincoln’s School of Pharmacy attaining a 50.0% pass rate.
The GPhC said it has asked the three institutions to provide “action plans” and indicated that “it aims to see improvements from all three in relation to pass rates”.
The regulator said all three schools of pharmacy are also seeking reaccreditation to the GPhC’s new initial education and training standards, adding that once the accreditation has taken place, it “will prepare a report setting out any recommendations or conditions on the school’s accreditation”.
This follows the regulator’s engagement with three other schools of pharmacy, after concerns around pass rates in the June 2022 registration exam.
“In the year since the June 2022 sitting, we have engaged with three schools whose pass rate was concerningly low,” the papers said.
“All three have been subject to re-accreditation, all three re-accreditation reports are available publicly on the GPhC’s website and a full account of the actions taken will be presented to the Quality and Performance Assurance Committee.”
In November 2021, the GPhC said it planned to meet with universities over “deeply concerning” registration exam pass rates in the July 2021 registration exam.
In its most recent council papers, the GPhC also said it would take a more comprehensive view of registration assessment data to see if the variability in pass rates by schools of pharmacy are part of a “more systemic” issue.
“At present, data is presented to Council as a snapshot after each sitting. We intend to develop this to produce a more comprehensive report and analysis which details trends over a period of time from sitting to sitting,” it said.
“This will provide a more useful way of identifying whether the interventions we are making are having the desired effect and whether differences in pass rate are part of a more systemic issue.”