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26th February 2021
Throughout the pandemic, thousands of provisional pharmacists have been working tirelessly, supporting Pharmacy and wider healthcare teams, as we provide for our patients during this crisis. They have consistently demonstrated that they can work as competent and reliable professional members of our workforce in their support for patients in both hospital and GP practice, as well as in a community pharmacy setting.
Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) members, both provisionally registered and qualified, have raised concerns about the potential lack of employer support for provisionally registered pharmacists should they be unsuccessful in the March sitting of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) assessment.
The GPhC guidance enabled all eligible to join the provisional register for a 12 month period from July 2020 until July 2021. Provisional registration was granted with the understanding that candidates would successfully sit the GPhC assessment during this time period. However, if provisional pharmacists are unsuccessful at the March sitting (the first opportunity to sit the assessment), those affected will be unable to resume working as provisional registrants. Instead, they must wait until the next opportunity to sit the assessment – this will be summer 2021. This may mean a delay for candidates of 2-3 months from the exam results to the next exam sitting.
In 2019, the last time the GPhC registration exam was undertaken, the pass rate was 72%. Despite their increased experience and obvious competence in practice, there is no guarantee that there will be an improvement in the pass rate for this cohort, given the additional pressures which provisional pharmacists have faced this year, as well as the overhanging threat of loss of income should they fail at this last hurdle.
We are asking all employers to extend their employment for provisionally registered pharmacists until they have an opportunity to re-sit the registration examination in summer 2021.
We understand that there is an option in place for candidates to declare themselves not ‘fit to sit’, but we believe it is only fair that all candidates should be supported should they choose to sit the March exam, given the length of time they have had to wait to sit it. We have reports that some hospital trusts in England have devised local agreements to extend the employment of all candidates who are unsuccessful in the March assessment to work as a Pre-Registration Pharmacist at AfC band 5 until they successfully re-sit their examination in summer 2021. This will provide employers with a viable way to extend employment without formal registration.
We believe that with the support of their employers and colleagues in the profession, provisional pharmacists, who have already shown the enormous value they offer to patients throughout the pandemic, will be able to join the professional register.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Callum Garner, Early Careers Pharmacist
Kay Fenwick, Chair of Education & Training, Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists
Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists
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We know that this has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone in the NHS – both at work and at home. Now we have a National Vaccination programme to implement safely in order to support the UK population to slowly regain some “normality” in time. As a committee, the GHP Council are supporting the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns now taking place across the UK, and we urge our members to support these initiatives in whatever way that you can.
This has been a complex process to facilitate safely, and a number of different legal mechanisms exist to support this in the range of NHS and non-NHS bodies that are engaging in vaccination across the UK. There may be a range of ways employers choose to roll out the vaccination of staff and others, whether on NHS sites or in other centres. We want to support our members to engage safely in the vaccination programmes, and we have used the informationprovided centrally from the NHS, to highlight some things to consider when you are involved in a vaccination programme at your place of work. Find our statement here.
Wishing you, and your families, a peaceful festive period.
(on behalf of the GHP Council)
Dr. Roisin O’Hare Bsc(hons) PGCHET MSc DPharm MPSNI(IP) FFRPSLead Teacher Practitioner Pharmacist, NI Universities Network /Cardiology Pharmacist, Southern Health and Social Care Trust
President, Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP).
It is essential that we work together to identify treatments which will help hinder the progression of the disease and to reduce the need for hospital admissions.
PRINCIPLE, is a national trial led by researchers at the University of Oxford, including leading Pharmacist, Dr Mahendra Patel. It is investigating a number of treatment strategies to manage the symptoms of COVID-19.
The trial is evaluating medication which is well known and has been used for many years around the world for a number of conditions, to good effect. The objective is to determine if the treatment, when given to those at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, helps to reduce the need for hospitalisation, length of stay required, or if helps patients recover quicker.
PRINCIPLE is looking for volunteers who are unwell with COVID-19 symptoms to participate in their treatment trial. To help the fight against COVID-19 and for more information on joining the trial, visit www.principletrial.org.
The Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists (GHP) would like to extend a warm welcome to the profession. Congratulations on reaching this stage of your Pharmacy training thus far. As you are already aware, the aim of provisional registration is to support and enable you to use your education and training to support NHS services and provide patient care effectively, while maintaining standards for entry to the register and protecting patient safety. Please refer to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) website for more information. Being newly registered brings many new and exciting responsibilities with a lot to organise. Have you thought about joining a union? Read our short blog about the benefits of joining The Guild and Unite the Union.