It is “not feasible” to introduce an alternative to the registration exam, the GPhC has said as it comes under pressure to scrap or delay the March assessment.
With lockdown restrictions tightening across the UK, there have been calls on the regulator to review its plans for the assessment, which is due to take place on March 17-18 in Pearson VUE test centres.
Some have called for the exam to be scrapped or postponed, while the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has asked for greater flexibility, such as allowing candidates to sit the exam in their homes.
However, in a January 8 statement the GPhC said it was “committed to holding a robust and fair assessment for candidates at the earliest opportunity”.
The regulator said: “The registration assessment is the most effective method to maintain standards for entry to the pharmacist register in the current system of pharmacist education and training.
“It is not feasible to introduce alternative routes to registration for provisionally-registered pharmacists that would uphold standards, protect patient safety and be fair to all candidates.”
It said it had received over 1,500 applications to sit the March exam, and that it was “confident we can hold robust and fair sittings that are as safe as possible” in the test centres.
“We are keeping the situation under active review but are expecting that the sittings will go ahead as planned.”
Candidates may decide at any time to withdraw from the March assessment, the GPhC said, in which case they may sit the summer assessment instead.
The regulator said it was “very aware of the significant stress and pressures that candidates have experienced during the pandemic”.
“We recognise in particular that there are significant workforce challenges at the moment and are very grateful to employers and to pharmacy teams for all their efforts to support candidates and enable them to take study leave.”