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Impact of pandemic on pharmacy students’ education should be assessed, says PSA

By Isabel Shaw

16 Apr 2021

The impact of the pandemic on the education of health and care professionals, will need to be assessed, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has said.

The recommendation was made in a report on how 10 UK health and social care regulators – including the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) – responded to the initial crisis caused by the pandemic.

The PSA highlighted that Covid had caused ‘profound disruption’ throughout courses of education at every level, and every discipline, including health and social care.

It said that the ‘full consequences’ for regulation will need to be analysed, as will the ‘impacts on students’ education and by extension their preparedness for practice’.

The PSA also said that it would be worth assessing whether the current ‘balance, structure and length of training’ is right for all professions, in light of the pandemic.

Provisional registration

The Learning from Covid report included a case study from the GPhC on provisional registration, which was introduced earlier this year in response to the pandemic to allow trainees to put their education and training into practice and support NHS services.

The PSA said there would be a benefit to reviewing the establishment of temporary and provisional registration against the risks and costs to see whether other regulators, which did not have the powers to appoint temporary registration during the pandemic, would have benefited from doing so.

‘Such review should include the experiences of those temporarily registered, and wider impacts including on public confidence,’ it said.

The PSA also acknowledged that ‘the effects of the pandemic will continue to be felt for some time’ and that many services were already ‘suffering staff shortages.’

Unlike some regulators in other countries, it is not currently part of the UK regulators’ remit to have any duty for workforce supply.

The GPhC has confirmed that the provisional register will be extended until January 2022 in order to ‘mitigate some of the issues’ delayed exam sittings may cause.

Last month, the regulator also announced that the clinical training providing to provisionally registered and pre-registration pharmacists during the pandemic will be assessed.

The PSA report concluded that the UK health and social care regulators had reacted quickly to the pandemic and ‘kept the show on the road’, which it said was ‘a testament to the commitment to public protection of all involved’.

It added that it will be important to ‘secure the gains’ that have come through the crisis, while addressing benefits that have been lost and concerns that were ‘necessarily put to one side’.

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