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PDA urges employers to be flexible and support the next generation of pharmacists

The GPhC confirmed last week that the March 2021 assessment is to go ahead as planned. However, following reports from prov-reg members about contractual issues, and the fact that some are not being allowed the leave needed to prepare for the assessment, the PDA is urging employers to be flexible, supportive and to act reasonably.

Thu 14th January 2021 The PDA

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. Provisionally registered pharmacists know that if they fail the assessment, they will be immediately removed from the register; the GPhC regulations allow them to wait to sit in June and provisional registration currently ends on 1 July.

PDA members are telling us that in this wave of the pandemic, there is unprecedented pressure on pharmacy services and as the vaccine programme gains pace, we know that pharmacists are in demand. 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 regulator made it clear to employers in their ‘Initial education and training standards for pharmacists criteria for registering provisionally’ document that there was an additional requirement on employers – provision for study time prior to the registration assessment. The GPhC confirmed 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.

Paul Day, 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.”

In addition, the PDA has been hearing from some members that their contract includes a clause which requires them to sit at the ‘earliest’ or ‘first’ opportunity, which some prov-regs feel removes their choice to decide if they are ‘fit to sit’. This will force them to sit and potentially forfeit an attempt if they fail because they have not been able to prepare due to the pandemic. The PDA asks for employers to waive such clauses, which after all were drafted last summer when the current pandemic circumstances could not have been known.

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’”.

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

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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