Provisionally registered pharmacists who are currently residing outside the UK will no longer be allowed to appear for the March registration exam, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said .

In an e-mail communication to the foreign students staying outside the UK, the pharmacy regulator has said that “it is now no longer feasible for you to sit the registration assessment outside of the UK for the Spring 2021 sitting, either in a test centre or remotely.”

The GPhC has cited technical issues for its latest decision to not include the overseas students in the exams. It said: “To maintain the integrity of the assessment, it is essential that the content cannot be shared in advance with other candidates, either through social media or directly through contact between candidates.

“We have also assessed whether it is feasible for you to sit the assessment remotely. However, as we cannot guarantee that places can be booked online through the Pearson VUE system, and due to the concerns previously expressed by candidates about the potential difficulties of home environments, such as availability of suitable technology and internet connections, we do not believe that this option can be offered to you.”

Those candidates who are able to return to the UK or have already returned are eligible to sit for the assessment in a UK test centre, if they still want to do so.

Gail Fleming, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) Director of Education and Professional Development, said the latest update is “very concerning.”

“Other professions have been able to manage this risk and run international examinations and we are disappointed that the GPhC is unable to make similar provisions,” Fleming said.

“The short notice period means that it will be practically impossible for trainees to undertake the assessment even if they wanted to due to travel restrictions, limited flight availability and potential visa limitations. We are aware that trainees in Hong Kong, who have undertaken a UK pharmacy degree, require full UK registration to be able to practise in their home country and this new announcement will therefore impact them significantly.

Fleming urges the GPhC to resolve this “difficult position” for many trainee pharmacists.

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