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Home  »   Latest News   »   PDA calls for urgent action from GPhC and PSNI to retain credibility of the online assessment examinations

PDA calls for urgent action from GPhC and PSNI to retain credibility of the online assessment examinations

At the beginning of 2022, the BTL Group Ltd, which made approximately £10 million in profit last year, was appointed the new provider of the common registration assessment sittings on behalf of the General Pharmaceutical Society (GPhC) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Thu 30th June 2022 The PDA

PDA members have reported issues at several test centres yesterday (29 June 2022), which was the first sitting of the year with the new provider. Issues included poor communication on the day, technical and equipment issues, and reasonable adjustments not being upheld.

Collette Bradford, PDA Director of Organising and Engagement said, “The PDA is concerned to hear once again of trainee and potential pharmacists experiencing significant issues on attempting to sit their assessment examinations yesterday. Our priority is to support the physical and mental wellbeing of candidates who have been affected, and the PDA encourages those members to contact PDA enquiries for support and guidance through the relevant processes.

The regulator moved to online examinations during the pandemic and each sitting has had challenges. The PDA has met regularly with the GPhC and believes that the learnings taken from each previous sitting should have given the new provider enough information to fully test and risk assess the process, giving them the best chance to provide a consistent and robust assessment.

The regulators have a responsibility to work with the provider to ensure that any reasonable adjustments agreed with candidates are implemented to ensure a fair and equitable examination process and outcome. The PDA Equality Council are appalled by reports that the agreed reasonable adjustments were not available to every trainee who needed them and that some members have been treated unfairly. They will raise their concerns with the regulator.

We acknowledge the GPhC’s speedy communications yesterday when the issues came to light, however, there needs to be confidence and credibility in the assessment process. These often-avoidable situations create unnecessary stress and concern at a crucial point in a pharmacist’s qualification. The PDA will seek a meeting with the regulator to discuss the issues individual members have raised directly to address these and agree a transparent contingency plan for moving forward.”

Richard Hutton, PDA Regional Official has provided advice and guidance to PDA trainee members on procedures such as withdrawal, nullification, and post-assessment appeals. Richard said, The PDA offers excellent support to trainees through our education offer, with an online revision programme, mock exams, and live sessions. However, some trainees have experienced problems on the day of the assessment which will usually fall into two categories; nullification of an assessment on grounds of either a procedural error or a situation, medical or other condition which the student was unaware of at the time of the exam, but which had an impact on their performance.

It is important for anyone affected by such circumstances to keep the complaint number you have been given by the invigilator. The PDA can give advice and guidance to members, and we would encourage them to get in touch.”

Collette continued, “The PDA fully understands the high-stakes nature of the common registration assessment as a pivotal step in the future career of any pharmacist and will work with the GPhC /PSNI to ensure that this shouldn’t happen again. The online examinations need to be a proficient, robust and positive experience for all trainees.”

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The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

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