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The PDA has urged pharmacy employers to remain flexible and supportive towards provisionally registered pharmacists as they are scheduled to face exams in March amid growing workload pressure.

The Pharmacists Defence Association’s (PDA) latest call follows complaints from the provisionally registered members that they are facing contractual issues and some are not being able get leave and a flexible atmosphere to prepare for the tests in.

“We all want to support those provisionally registered and the pre-reg resitters, many of whom are working in other roles within pharmacy, to have the best opportunity possible to become pharmacists in these challenging times,” the PDA said in a statement.

Many of the provisionally registered pharmacists told the association that during the second wave of the virus pandemic, there is unprecedented pressure on pharmacy services and as the Covid-19 vaccine programme gains pace, there will be a tremendous workload for pharmacists.

“Some provisionally registered members are reporting that their study and revision leave, previously agreed, is now being cancelled by their employer and they are struggling to prepare for the assessment,” the PDA noted.

Paul Day, the PDA director, said: “Many of our locum pharmacists have indicated, since the announcement of the dates of the assessment, that they are available to offer cover and employers should utilise that population. These are difficult times for everyone and the whole pharmacy community has a part to play in ensuring exam candidates can continue with their careers.”

Mark Pitt, PDA director of defence services, said: “Pharmacy is a caring profession and during these unprecedented times we must support those who will become the next generation of pharmacists and future leaders of our profession. The PDA urges employers to be flexible, act reasonably and behave responsibly towards prov-regs to empower them to make decisions about the upcoming assessment which are personally right for them.

“This vulnerable group are working and learning in incredibly stressful and pressurised working environments, balancing personal and work commitments to provide high-quality care to patients. This extraordinary situation is an opportunity for pharmacy employers to embrace the values inherent in our profession by prioritising the needs of prov-regs over the next few months.

“This will give them the best chance to pass the assessment and to more comprehensively help patients once fully registered. The PDA will continue to support members to exercise their choice and to either secure the time off for revision they need and/or to decide if they are ‘fit to sit’”.

Meanwhile, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has made it clear to employers that there was an additional requirement on employers – provision for study time prior to the registration assessment.

The GPhC confirmed earlier this week that they expect employers to uphold their commitment to those provisionally registered, who want to sit the exam, by granting them the time off for study and revision as agreed.

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