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Do you speak englishSeptember 30 2015

The pharmacy regulator is seeking views on proposals for English language standards requirements for pharmacy professionals. Its draft guidance sets out how pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will be expected to demonstrate they have the necessary knowledge of English to practise safely and effectively.

Recent legislative changes will give the General Pharmaceutical Council new powers to check pharmacists who qualified in the EEA have the necessary knowledge of English. It will also have new powers to investigate a registrant’s fitness to practise in cases where a pharmacy professional’s knowledge of English may pose a serious risk to patient safety.

The proposals would mean that anyone completing the relevant approved qualifications taught and examined in English would only need to provide the documentary evidence of this.

For non-UK qualified applicants, the GPhC is proposing that applicants will need to provide evidence to demonstrate their knowledge of English, irrespective of whether they qualified in the European Economic Area, Switzerland or any non-EEA country.

Three types of evidence being proposed as suitable are documents showing:

  • evidence of having achieved the required scores in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • evidence of having been awarded a primary pharmacy qualification taught and examined solely in English in a country where English is the first and native language (rather than it being the country’s official language)
  • evidence of recent practice of at least two years in a country where English is the first and native language.

Duncan Rudkin, GPhC Chief Executive, said: “These important changes will help us provide further assurance to patient and the public that pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can practise safely, by making sure that only those who can communicate effectively in English are able to practise in Great Britain.

“This consultation is part of our effort to implement the legal requirement as quickly as possible. And I would like to emphasise that employers continue to be responsible for checking the language skills of any pharmacy professional they are planning to employ.”

The GPhC is also consulting on changes to its rules, including changes to strengthen the existing requirement on registrants to have appropriate indemnity arrangements. A further change will address the need to avoid conflicts of interest arising from common membership of Appeals Committee and Fitness to Practise Committee panels.

The consultation runs until December 17, and the GPhC’s Council meeting in April 2016 will consider approving the guidance. The guidance will then be published once the parliamentary processes have been completed to amend the GPhC’s Registration and Fitness to Practice rules.

Copies of the consultation are available in English and Welsh language versions.

Links:

GPhC announcement   

GPhC ‘Consultation on draft guidance on evidence of English language skills - September 2015’                

Link to download consultations in English or Welsh          

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