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The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has raised its concerns over Pearson VUE’s ability to deliver an efficient and fair examination process for provisionally registered pharmacists and re-sitters next year.

Assessment exam of the provisionally registered pharmacists and re-sitters was cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The PDA has called on the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to ensure that every step is taken to develop, deliver and adequately test the process before the exam.

“This is to ensure that there is a ‘fit for purpose’ online registration assessment that not only provides the public with the confidence in the next generation of pharmacists but also gives candidates a fair test opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills without further detriment,” the PDA has said.

The Pearson Vue, the company which provides online academic and government testing programmes, has come under criticism over their handling of other professional body online examination processes including the 2020 pharmacy examinations in Australia.

“Key issues have been reported around examination platform performance, reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities and issues with the management of online booking and log in processes,” the PDA added.

“During a PDA meeting with members, a number of issues and questions were raised which we have submitted to the regulator to help inform the development of their FAQs for the future assessment. In addition, we have raised our member’s concerns about the reported experiences of other professionals who have recently sat online examinations provided by Pearson Vue contracts,” it added.

Reassurance from  GPhC

Meanwhile, the GPhC has reassured that it will work closely with Pearson Vue to deliver a fair and efficient examination process.

Mark Voce, GPhC director of education and standards, said: “I’d like to reassure candidates that we are listening very carefully to all of the concerns and questions they are raising and taking them into account when developing the plans for the next sitting of the registration assessment.

“We are working closely with Pearson Vue to make sure our requirements for the registration assessment are met and it is robust and fair for candidates. We will be sending a further update to candidates before the end of November.”

The cohort of provisionally registered pharmacists and re-sitters have already experienced unprecedented levels of change and challenges and many have worked tirelessly, contributing to the pharmacy sector’s response to Covid-19.

These new professionals will also be expected to play their part during the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

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