The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have announced that they will introduce a common registration exam across the UK from 2021.
The GPhC is currently responsible for setting the exam sat by pharmacy students in England, Scotland and Wales after their pre-registration year, whereas the PSNI does the same for pharmacy students in Northern Ireland.
The regulators announced yesterday (5 December) that the assessment will be set by a single board of assessors that reports to both councils and that pharmacists practising in all four UK countries will write and standard-set the questions, starting from the June 2021 sitting.
The exam will be ‘based on the GPhC’s current approach with input from the PSNI’ and will follow a common syllabus, format and registration assessment framework for all four countries, the GPhC said.
It added: ‘[The exam] will test the application of pharmaceutical knowledge and numeracy relevant to current pharmacy practice in both Great Britain and Northern Ireland.’
The regulators first revealed they were considering making the assessment the same in all four countries to ‘fully harmonise’ pharmacy education across the UK in May.
PSNI chief Trevor Paterson said the move ‘will deliver a modernised and proportionate conclusion to the pre-registration year that [the PSNI has] delivered for many years’.
He added: ‘We will now begin delivery of a comprehensive implementation and communication plan to ensure all those affected are informed and fully prepared for the improvements.’
The GPhC ‘already work[s] closely’ with the PSNI and the new joint assessment will ‘further strengthen these links between day one practice of pharmacists’ in the two countries, GPhC chief Duncan Rudkin said.
The regulators added that they will ‘engage directly’ with those affected, including fourth year MPharm students in Northern Ireland, who will sit the first joint paper in June 2021, and those providing pre-registration training and pharmacy education in Northern Ireland.
In July, it was revealed that the pass rate for the British June registration assessment had plummeted to its lowest level since the GPhC took responsibility for the exam in 2011, at 72%.
Meanwhile, it was announced in October that almost one in seven candidates (69%) passed the GPhC’s September’s pharmacy registration exam.