The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has confirmed that candidates who faced delays and ‘procedural’ issues during registration exam sittings will be eligible for provisional registration.

This includes candidates who experienced delays of 30 minutes or more – who have not previously failed the assessment - and any who successfully appeal their result after experiencing other procedural issues such as significant technical problems or other major disruption during the sitting.

The GPhC Council said it recognises that a delay of half an hour or more could impact the candidates’ ability to ‘perform at the level they would expect to be able to, because of the additional anxiety it would cause in the context of sitting an online assessment’.

These candidates will also be able to receive a full refund, and for this sitting not to count as one of their three attempts, it added.

Candidates who may be eligible because of delays will be identified using data showing what time a candidate started each paper. The GPhC will be contacting these candidates by email by 13 July to explain how they can apply for provisional registration if they are eligible.

Meanwhile, candidates who believe their performance may have been significantly affected by a procedural issue relating to how the assessment was held - such as significant technical problems or other major disruption during the sitting - can appeal if they are unsuccessful in this sitting.

The GPhC Council also agreed:

  • To invite candidates to join online listening sessions so they can give us their feedback, ask us questions and we can explain to them what we are doing in response.
  • To bring in external consultants to do an audit of the registration assessment processes and the contract with BTL to determine what went wrong and how can they be improved.
  • To establish a new Council Committee on Quality and Performance Assurance, which will be chaired by Dr Rima Makarem, a lay member on the GPhC Council, and which will oversee this work.

Announcing the eligibility criteria for provision registration, Gisela Abbam, GPhC chair, said the GPhC would like ‘to sincerely apologise again to the candidates who experienced significant problems during their registration assessment sitting’.

She continued: ‘We know our apology cannot undo the significant emotional upset and worry that has been caused. As a Council, we are absolutely committed to supporting the individual candidates affected by significant problems, and to taking swift action to prevent this happening again.’

‘The Council is extremely dissatisfied with the way the assessment was delivered. We are urgently investigating with [assessment provider] BTL what went wrong through a serious incident review and will then consider what further action we should take, so that there is due accountability...

‘We understand some other candidates feel they experienced other problems [other than delays] on the day relating to how their sitting was managed, that significantly affected their performance. We want to reassure them that we are also listening to them and considering all of the issues they have raised as part of our investigation.’

A group of trainee pharmacists have planned a protest on 13 July at 11am at GPhC’S headquarters at 25 Canada Square in London following the delays at the registration exam sitting.

They also reported further complaints, including inadequate invigilation; insufficient breaks between papers; examination rooms being unfit for purpose; confusion over the use of calculators; and reasonable adjustments agreed for candidates with disabilities not being provided.