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‘Our future pharmacists deserve better’, sector lambasts GPhC for failing foundation exam candidates

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The General Pharmaceutical Council has apologized for severe delays and disruptions during the June foundation registration assessment at five test centres in England on Wednesday (June 29).

The pharmacy regulator said it has since “contacted the candidates affected via email to apologise for the disruption and the extra worry this will have caused.

“We will also be issuing our usual survey for all candidates so we can hear directly from them about their experiences and have also asked candidates to get in touch if they would like individual advice.”

GPhC admitted that the worse sufferers were the candidates at a test centre in Nottingham “where the delay was severe and candidates were only able to start Paper 1 in the late afternoon”.

Extremely sorry

In a statement, Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said: “We are extremely sorry for the severe delays experienced by candidates in Nottingham today. This is completely unacceptable, and we fully appreciate the significant stress and disruption this must have caused for them in such a high-stakes assessment.

“We are advising the candidates in Nottingham that we will accept the severe delay as grounds for appeal if they do not pass. This means that if they do not pass the assessment, this sitting would not count as one of their attempts to pass. We are considering what else we can do to support the affected candidates.

“The GPhC and BTL will also work together as a priority to review what caused these delays and make sure lessons are learnt to help avoid these issues happening again in the future.”

Nisha’s ordeal

A candidate took to Twitter to complain: “Left the Notts #gphcexam at 11pm, was in the building for 14 hrs, sat for 8 hrs in starvation waiting to sit the exam-was made to press end test 30 mins before my exam timer was up because they ‘had to close the building’, didn’t get to read the last 22 questions.

Pharmacy Business has asked GPhC how it will compensate the affected candidates like Nisha.

GPhC has since tried to reach out to Nisha via Twitter — apologising for her “completely unacceptable experience” and dealing with her case “as a matter of urgency”.

The pharmacy regulator says that the majority of the just under 2,700 registration exam candidates “were able to complete the assessment with no issues”. Those in five test centres — of a total of 113 centres across the UK — “experienced delays in starting either Paper 1 or Paper 2 due to IT or other technical issues”.

‘We need better systems’

Commenting on the difficulties and delays experienced by candidates in five centres in England, Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Claire Anderson said: “The registration examination is the gateway to our profession. It exists to preserve the profession’s integrity and protect patients, and as such there must be confidence in it. After continued issues over multiple sittings, however, the profession is losing this trust… Our future pharmacists deserve better. The GPhC must ensure no trainee ever has this kind of experience again.”

Senior pharmacist Mohammed Hussain tweeted: “This must just be awful for the candidates. Five years leading to this and then they have to stay quarantined for several hours in a room, stressed, waiting for the the exam to start. These failures keep happening, we need better systems and mitigations.”.

Meanwhile, the profession’s charity, Pharmacist Support, has offered help to those affected by the exam chaos. “We’re sorry to hear of the issues that went on with the registration assessment. Please remember we are here to support you with your wellbeing.”

 

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