The General Pharmaceutical Council has reassured all provisionally registered pharmacists that it is working hard with Pearson VUE to solve all the technical glitches related to the online test centre booking process.

The latest statement from the GPhC follows concerns raised by the provisionally registered pharmacists and other industry stakeholders over technical glitches being faced by students while trying to sign up for the assessment scheduled in just over a fortnight.

A GPhC spokesperson told Pharmacy Business: “We know that some candidates have experienced issues when booking their place for the registration assessment. We are very sorry for the worry and anxiety this has caused and we would like to reassure these candidates that we are working hard with Pearson VUE to identify how we can resolve these issues.”

The regulator admitted that there were a range of booking issues being faced by the candidates and said, “We recognise that candidates in Scotland have faced particular challenges and some candidates have not yet been able to find a test centre within Scotland.  We are urgently exploring all possible options with Pearson VUE to try to release more places within Scotland and will keep candidates updated on progress.”

Despite these technical issues during the booking process, as many as 2,705 candidates have already registered at their online test centres to attend the assessment scheduled to be held on March 17 and 18, the pharmacy regulator said.

“The vast majority of candidates across England, Scotland and Wales have been able to book a test centre, with 2705 having successfully registered their places so far.”

The GPhC has also assured pharmacy students that all Pearson VUE test centres are Covid secure and social distancing norms compliant.

“We understand some candidates across Great Britain who have booked places may have to travel further than they may have anticipated to sit the assessment. Pearson VUE test centres are Covid-secure and are complying with social distancing requirements to ensure the safety of candidates.”

“…We can reassure candidates that they are able to travel to sit the assessment as an essential activity. We do however recognise the challenges of travelling long distances and staying away from home during national lockdowns.”

It further added: “For candidates that have booked to sit the assessment in a test centre that is a significant distance from their home, we will work with Pearson VUE to try and find a more convenient option, although we cannot guarantee this.”

RPS, provisional registrants seek clarification on booking arrangements

The provisionally registered pharmacists and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) have sought urgent clarification from the GPhC on the booking arrangements it has made for the upcoming provisional registrants’ exams.

The RPS issued a statement after provisional registrants raised their concerns over the technical glitches.

Responding to the rising concerns over the booking arrangements made, Gail Fleming, Director for RPS Education and Professional Development, said:  “With just three weeks to go until the assessment, this is incredibly difficult for provisionally registered pharmacists who have worked so hard to provide the best possible care for patients throughout the pandemic.

“It is important that there is sufficient capacity so trainees avoid having to travel any significant distance to take the assessment, especially during a national lockdown. We are also seeking confirmation of the timing of assessment sittings which assure the integrity of the assessment.

“We have contacted the GPhC to seek urgent clarification on this matter. Trainees will be focused on their exam preparation and must not have distractions such as trying to find a test centre. It is critical that this issue is resolved quickly.

“Once again, we are so incredibly proud and grateful for the dedication shown by all provisionally registered pharmacists during this difficult period and the huge contributions they have made throughout Covid-19.  They are continuing to work extremely hard to ensure the best possible care for patients and we all should be doing everything we can to support them.”

Meanwhile, many provisional registrants have stormed Twitter to express their concerns over the technical glitches they have had to face at a time when they are already under tremendous work pressure due to the pandemic and have only a few days left to prepare for the assessment.

“And I’m tired, anxious and stressed. I have worked hard; working as a frontline healthcare worker in a pandemic whilst studying for the exam which is supposed to proof I’m “qualified” for the job I’m currently working in,” a provisional registrant said in a tweet.

Jasmine, a clinical pharmacist tweeted: “Pharmacy regulator has talked about integrity of the register an awful lot in the past months. After yesterday, I’m wondering  about the integrity of the regulator?”

Sarwar Shah, a hospital pharmacist and PharmaSense co-founder urged for a review of the leadership team of the pharmacy regulator as it failed to move consistently on assessment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “@TheGPhC needs a full review of their leadership team.  Abysmal handling and multiple U turns throughout the covid pandemic. I like many others have lost confidence and faith in this regulator. We must call out this poor handling of pre-reg…”

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