The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said on Monday (Feb 15) that provisionally registered pharmacists who are currently in countries with more than two hours’ time difference to the UK, will now be able to sit their assessment exams in March.

Candidates in countries with a time difference of two hours or more will now be able to apply to sit remotely at home, subject to availability of remote sitting places, the pharmacy regulator said in an update.

These candidates would sit the assessment concurrently with UK candidates, which may mean that they would be sitting during unsociable hours in their country.

However, the GPhC has cautioned that it can’t guarantee that each and every candidate is able to attend the assessment from a remote place.

“We would highlight that we cannot guarantee that every candidate will be able to book a place for a remote sitting, as there are a limited number of slots for remote sittings available on Pearson VUE, which are available to candidates across all Pearson hosted tests.”

“We recognise that overseas candidates sitting remotely could also face challenges due to the potential difficulties of home environments, suitable technology and internet connections, and sitting during unsociable hours,” it added.

The candidates who are currently residing in foreign countries are unable to return to the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on foreign travelers in the UK.

The GPhC has also suggested the candidates to consider carefully about “whether they do want to apply to sit in March or if they want to wait until a later sitting, when it may possibly be more feasible for them to travel to the UK and sit in a test centre.”

The regulator also assured the candidate that it will contact the candidates directly with further details about the option to sit remotely and the next steps they need to take.

Earlier, citing technical reasons, the GPhC excluded overseas students from appearing the assessment scheduled for March 2021.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has welcomed the GPhC’s latest move on the overseas students.

RPS Director of Education and Professional Development Gail Fleming said: “We very much welcome the announcement that the GPhC will now be making the registration assessment available to pharmacy trainees outside of the UK.

“Trainees should not have been asked to travel to the UK to take an online assessment in the midst of a pandemic. The online capability is there and we are aware that a broad range of professions have been using this to run their assessments overseas.

“It is important that all pharmacy trainees can access the registration assessment irrespective of their location or personal situation that may impact on their ability to attend a test centre in person.

“We must protect and support the future generation of pharmacists during these difficult times as best as we can. We will continue to engage with the GPhC to ensure that similar situations like this do not happen in future.”

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