All candidates in Great Britain who faced problems when sitting the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC)’s registration assessment will be eligible for provisional registration, the pharmacy regulator has announced.
However, they are eligible only if they meet eligibility criteria set out in the GPhC policy which states: “Have sat the registration assessment on 29 June 2022 and experienced delays of 30 minutes or more in starting or completing either or both Part 1 and/or Part 2 of the registration assessment due to technical or other IT difficulties (This also includes those who withdrew from the registration assessment on the day due to the start of the assessment being delayed by 30 minutes or more).”
GPhC added that these candidates will also be able to claim a full refund, and this sitting will not count as one of their three attempts.
Gisela Abbam, chair of the GPhC, said: “We would like to sincerely apologise again to the candidates who experienced significant problems during their registration assessment sitting.
“We know our apology cannot undo the significant emotional upset and worry that has been caused. As a Council, we are absolutely committed to supporting the individual candidates affected by significant problems, and to taking swift action to prevent this happening again.
“The Council is extremely dissatisfied with the way the assessment was delivered. We are urgently investigating with BTL what went wrong through a serious incident review and will then consider what further action we should take, so that there is due accountability.
“The Council have agreed that all candidates who experienced a delay of over 30 minutes in starting or completing either or both parts of the assessment will be eligible for provisional registration.
“We understand some other candidates feel they experienced other problems on the day relating to how their sitting was managed, that significantly affected their performance. We want to reassure them that we are also listening to them and considering all of the issues they have raised as part of our investigation.
“The Council agreed that it was right and fair to also offer provisional registration to candidates where their appeal is upheld due to other problems they experienced, such as significant technical issues or other major disruption.
“The Council agreed we need to continue to urgently review arrangements for the November sitting and quickly decide how that sitting should be held, to reduce as far as possible the risk of these issues happening again, while still holding a robust assessment that upholds the confidence of the public and the profession.
“The Council is looking forward to welcoming the successful candidates into the profession.”
Candidates who experienced delays
All candidates who experienced a delay of 30 minutes or more in starting either or both parts of the registration assessment in June, and who have not previously failed the assessment, will be eligible for provisional registration if they meet the other eligibility criteria set out in the policy.
The GPhC Council confirmed these eligibility criteria for provisional registration after deciding that a delay of 30 minutes or more is unacceptable and amounts to a procedural error in the conduct of the assessment.
The Council recognised that a delay of 30 minutes or more potentially affects the ability of candidates to perform at the level they would expect to be able to, because of the additional anxiety it would cause in the context of sitting an online assessment.
“Candidates who may be eligible will be identified using data showing what time a candidate started each paper. We will be contacting these candidates via email by next Wednesday 13 July, to explain how they can apply for provisional registration if they are eligible,” said the regulator.
In addition, GPhC will provisionally register candidates whose appeal is upheld after it is determined that the issues they experienced during the sitting amount to procedural error in the conduct of the assessment.
It has advised, “candidates who believe their performance may have been significantly affected by a procedural issue relating to how the assessment was held, such as significant technical problems or other major disruption during the sitting, to appeal, if they are unsuccessful in this sitting.”
Further action by GPhC
The Council has agreed to invite candidates to join online listening sessions so they can give their feedback, ask questions and the Council can explain to them what they are doing in response. GPhC Council members will be joining these sessions to hear directly from candidates. The dates and details of these listening sessions will be circulated shortly.
It has agreed to bring in external consultants to do an audit of the registration assessment processes and the contract with BTL to determine what went wrong and how can they be improved.
It will also establish a new Council Committee on Quality and Performance Assurance, which will be chaired by Dr Rima Makarem, a lay member on the GPhC Council, and which will oversee this work.