The RPS is calling on the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to publish a mitigation plan for the registration exam after some candidates experienced difficulties and delays at a sitting earlier this week.

Candidates at five centres in England sat the test later than expected yesterday (29 June), while others sitting the same assessment were forced to leave the exam centre early.

The GPhC has apologised and has said it is considering what else it can do to support the affected candidates.

Professor Claire Anderson, RPS president, called the situation ‘appalling’ and said she ‘fully understood [the candidates’] anger and distress’.

‘It is not acceptable that Foundation Trainees were subjected to such traumatic and chaotic circumstances on what was already a stressful day,’ she said.

The membership body called on the GPhC to publish a clear mitigation plan and risk register for the November 2022 sitting.

As part of that, RPS said the GPhC must send spare paper copies of the examination to all centres to be used in the event of a technical failure.

The GPhC must also ensure there is a spare set of question papers available for emergency use should a candidate not be able to complete the assessment on the day because of technical or operational issues outside their control.

Professor Anderson explained that the registration examination exists to ‘preserve the profession’s integrity and protect patients’, and therefore ‘there must be confidence in it’.

‘After continued issues over multiple sittings, however, the profession is losing this trust,’ she said.

Last year, some candidates reported that they had struggled to book a place at a test centre near to where they lived due to slots booking up ‘within minutes’ of going live.

Students also criticised the regulator after they booked exam slots via the booking system, only to find out later that these sittings did not actually exist.

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said: ‘We are extremely sorry for the severe delays experienced by candidates in Nottingham today. This is completely unacceptable,

and we fully appreciate the significant stress and disruption this must have caused for them in such a high-stakes assessment.

‘We are advising the candidates in Nottingham that we will accept the severe delay as grounds for appeal if they do not pass.

‘This means that if they do not pass the assessment, this sitting would not count as one of their attempts to pass. We are considering what else we can do to support the affected candidates.

‘The GPhC and BTL will also work together as a priority to review what caused these delays and make sure lessons are learnt to help avoid these issues happening again in the future.’