The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has said it will hold the registration assessment for 2019/20 pharmacy students in the first quarter of 2021, but has not given an exact date.

In an update sent to students yesterday (30 September), the regulator said the exam would take place sometime between the third week of January and March and that details on the exact date would be provided in the ‘near future’.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said it was ‘disappointing’ that an exact date had still not been set.

In the update, the GPhC said the initial delay in providing a date was because it had taken ‘some time’ to find and appoint a supplier for the online registration assessment.

‘We needed to carry out a thorough and compliant procurement process to make sure that we can hold an online assessment that meets our rigorous requirements for quality, security and accessibility,’ the regulator said.

The GPhC has now identified a preferred supplier for the assessment, it said, and is currently in contractual discussions with them.

‘We will now work with the supplier to identify an exact date for the next registration assessment and the detailed arrangements for the sitting, including how and when to start the application process, adjustment arrangements and the assessment specification. We will give you more information about progress in our October update,’ the update said.

‘Act quickly to set date’

Earlier this month, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA) urged the body to clarify when the 2020 registration assessment will take place after it was postponed in March following the outbreak of Covid-19.

In a letter to GPhC, the bodies said that the ‘delay and the lack of progress updates are causing considerable additional anxiety for those waiting to sit the exam’.

Commenting on the latest update, Gail Fleming, RPS director of education, said: ‘It’s very disappointing that after all this time, the GPhC is still unable to provide trainees with a definite date for the delayed assessment. We understand how difficult this is for those affected and will continue to support them as best we can.’

Ms Fleming urged the GPhC to act quickly to set an exact date and information on the format of the assessment, to provide certainty to those who will be sitting the exam.

She added: ‘We are aware of the extremely challenging circumstances that trainees find themselves in; many are unable to secure employment as provisional registrants leading to financial hardship or in the case of overseas trainees, visas may run out before they are able to sit the exam. We need to look after our future professional workforce and these issues must be addressed. Regular, transparent and detailed communication is essential and we would ask the GPhC to provide more frequent updates.’