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Online exam led to more pharmacists joining the register, claims GPhC


Online exam led to more pharmacists joining the register, claims GPhC

Switching to an online registration assessment led to a spike in the number of newly qualified pharmacists last year, the GPhC has said.

In its annual report for 2021-22, the regulator said that as of March 31 this year there were 61,137 pharmacists on the register, up from 56,851 at the same point in 2021 – an increase of 7.5 per cent.

This followed a drop in pharmacists numbers in the previous year, which was attributed to delays in staging the registration exam in 2020. This meant that more exams were held in 2021, with two sittings in March, three in July and one in November. 

Accounting for the increase in the most recent financial year, the report said: “Moving the registration assessment online in 2021 led to a higher-than-usual number of pharmacists joining the register this year.”

“There was also an increase in overseas applications with the occupation being added to the Home Office shortage list." 

There was a more modest two per cent increase in the number of registered pharmacy technicians, rising from 24,429 to 24,928, while the number of registered premises fell by 133 to 13,844.

The GPhC’s income rose by 8.7 per cent to £25.1m by the end of the financial year. There was a “higher than expected” surplus of £2.5m due to factors such as recruitment delays and the “continued impact of the pandemic”.

Rise in FtP casework

The number of concerns raised against pharmacy professionals that ended up reaching the GPhC’s fitness to practise committee was 40 in 2021-22, up from 35 the previous year.

A total of 3,080 concerns were raised against pharmacy professionals, a slight increase from 2020-21. Eight registrants were struck off, while 21 were suspended and three given a warning.

As in previous years, concerns raised by members of the public accounted for the largest share at 56.6 per cent, while the number of concerns raised by other health professionals rose from 449 to 606.

Meanwhile, despite routine pharmacy inspections rising by more than double to 639, there were significantly fewer enforcement notices (27 versus 46 in 2020-21) and improvement notices imposed on premises (five versus 41).

In his foreword, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin described 2021-22 as “another challenging year for pharmacy teams as they have continued to play a vital role in protecting the public against Covid-19.

“We have heard many stories of amazing efforts and professional dedication in keeping services open and accessible, as well as of the quantities of vaccines administered.”

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