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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please see information below to help answer any questions you may have:

All information will be updated daily and new updates will be highlighted with writing in Italics.

Trainees should note that although we have taken the decision to release materials now to cover all remaining training days, first aid and the mock assessment – there are no deadlines for completion of any of these aspects of training and these are only available to assist their learning where needed. Trainees should access and complete these when they wish and as their current workload allows. 

What will happen to my protected PRPS Supernumerary status and Study Time? 

I am sure you will all understand that it is difficult to protect trainee’s supernumerary status and study time during this challenging time for the NHS. We need to use resources in the most effective way within all pharmacy teams to maximise patient care. We therefore anticipate that trainees will be supporting their pharmacy teams as best they can during the weeks and months ahead.

Study time is at the discretion of the employer during this time and we ask trainees to be flexible around this. Providing support to your Pharmacy team may take priority over study time. If your employer can provide study time, then consideration could be given to the best location physically for any study time to take place during this time recognising that workplaces may be disrupted and to assist with social distancing practices. Therefore, the availability of the study time and where it should be taken are at the discretion of the employer and should be agreed with them

What are the alternative arrangements for the NES PRPS Trainee Tutorials? 

We have taken the decision not to hold the remaining face to face tutorials scheduled for April and May. Instead these have been replaced with recorded online webinars covering the clinical content, which can be accessed by trainees in their own time/location. In order to maximise learning from these presentations there was the opportunity to raise any questions for the specialists in advance of the webinar being recorded. If a trainee has any questions following viewing a webinar, please ask your tutor or forward them to Lesley.Morrison@nes.scot.nhs.uk

Please log into Turas Learn to view any pre-work required before viewing the webinar.

All of the webinars covering the remaining training day clinical topics (Respiratory, Substance Misuse, Pain and Mental Health) have been recorded. These are all available in the April and May sections of the PRPS pages on Turas Learn here

What alternative arrangements are in place for First Aid Training? 

All First aid training courses scheduled after the 17th March 2020 have been cancelled. We have contacted all trainees who were affected on the 26th March 2020 with details of the alternative online course and the necessary log in details. Information regards this and other first aid resources available to trainees are available in Turas Learn.  

What alternative arrangements are in place for the NES Mock Registration Assessment? 

In place of holding the NES Mock Registration Assessment at an external venue, the decision has been made to make the assessment papers available to all trainees via Turas Learn from Monday 23rd March. This will enable them to print off a copy of the papers and sit the assessment at a convenient time and still get the experience of a timed, practise-run of the assessment. We would encourage trainees to sit the assessment under exam conditions if at all possible, as if it were the real thing and will provide guidance on timings and approach. 

We would remind trainees that these papers are the intellectual property of NES Pharmacy and we would ask that you do not share the paper with anyone else and it should be used only to help in their preparation for the registration assessment.  

Trainees should be aware that the GPhC Registration Assessment sittings for 2020 have been postponed (see below) but the mock will remain available to support trainee progress. NES Pharmacy will continue to monitor the situation and explore options for holding a mock assessment prior to future Registration Assessment sittings.

Please also remember you can access the PRPS question bank available in Turas Learn.

I can no longer attend my Community cross sector placement, have you any advice? 

A guidance and signposting document has been prepared for those trainees who are now unable to complete their 4 week community placements. This document addresses the recommended learning outcomes for the placement and offers alternative reading or activities which will help trainees meet relevant GPhC performance standards.  

This document is available in Turas Learn.

Is there any guidance for completion of GPhC standard A4.8?

This standard relates to engaging in a quality improvement process. NES has produced guidance and suggestions of quality improvement processes which can be worked up as evidence to achieve this standard –

Guidance Document 


I have some GPhC performance standards still to be signed off, due to a change in my working practice during COVID-19. Do you have any guidance that can help?

A guidance document is available in Turas Learn which provides suggestions of evidence that could be collected against the different GPhC performance standard has been collated to help those trainees who have noticed a change in the types of roles they have been undertaking as a result of COVID-19. We have considered alternative tasks that trainees may now be undertaking and how they fit with the performance standards. This is simply a suggestion of potential evidence and there is no requirement for new tasks to be undertaken, if not already being done so. If a trainee wishes to pick up a task in to order to demonstrate competency towards a particular standard, they should make this decision in conjunction with their tutor, who will help them decide if the task is appropriate.

I am a trainee with expenses outstanding due to cancelled events, what should I do?  

If trainees have any outstanding expenses claims please send these in via e-mail as soon as practical. Any travel booked prior to our event cancellations should be cancelled and claims including supporting evidence or receipts should be submitted where necessary by e-mailing Lesley.Morrison@nes.scot.nhs.ukPlease do not post anything to the NES offices at this time. 

We have removed the requirement to provide evidence of being unable to cancel from a provider at this time to make this process as simple as possible.  

What should I do if I need to self-isolate? 

Please follow the Government guidance regarding self isolation which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection  

Trainees who require an isolation note can download these from www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus

We recommend that any trainees self-isolating, that feel physically able to, could spend their time wisely by undertaking learning related to their training year e.g. completing the case studies, watching webinars, completing e-learning, writing up evidence and reflecting on their practical learning. We request that any trainees who are required to self isolate inform us via Lesley.Morrison@nes.scot.nhs.uk so we can provide any necessary support and guidance. 

What should I do if I have a high-risk medical condition? 

Trainees who are concerned this will affect them, please refer to the guidance which can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

If as a result of this guidance, you are in a vulnerable group (or live with those in vulnerable groups) and need to take time away from your training, the GPhC has provided guidance around 40-day absence in their most recent FAQs.

We would request that any trainees who fall into these categories follow guidance, discuss as soon as possible with their employer and also get in touch with us in confidence to discuss via Lesley.Morrison@nes.scot.nhs.uk. If you do not want to provide any personal details in the e-mail just provide a phone number and we can contact you directly.

I am pregnant what guidance should I follow? 

The Cabinet Secretary for Health made the following statement at the Health Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament on 24th March 2020 in response to the following question: What is the Government’s advice to any pregnant member of the medical and nursing workforce? 
 
'The advice to pregnant women is that they should work from home if possible. If that is not possible, they can be at work up to 28 weeks’ gestation, but their employer should ensure that sensible precautions are taken for them. A healthcare worker should minimise patient-facing contact and should certainly not work in higher-risk areas such as respiratory medicine or in an ICU. They should not be at work after 28 weeks’ gestation. Any woman who is pregnant will have a midwifery and obstetric care team. She should seek that team’s advice about her own specific case. A woman may have underlying health conditions that would take her out of the general advice that I have just outlined and that would mean that she should not be at work.'   

In light of limited evidence, all pregnant workers should be offered the choice of whether to work in direct patient-facing roles. 

Pregnant workers prior to 28 weeks’ gestation should have a risk assessment carried out and if the pregnant worker chooses to work in a patient facing role, they should be supported to do so by minimising the risk of transmission.  

Pregnant workers after 28 weeks' gestation or those with underling health conditions such as heart or lung disease at any gestation should be recommended to stay at home.        

If you are pregnant you should be particularly mindful of the guidance on social distancing (https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-social-distancing) (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing ). You should discuss your specific situation with your tutor/employer and NES. Further advice is available from the Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/coronavirus-covid-19-infection-in-pregnancy-v3-20-03-18.pdf ). It is recognised that the guidance on risk assessment regarding pregnancy may be subject to change.

It is recognised that the guidance on risk assessment regarding pregnancy may be subject to change.  

I have asthma what guidance should I follow? 

Guidance issued on 23/3/20 by Asthma.org.uk and on 30/3/20 by NHS Scotland recommends that anyone in the following groups should have Shielding advice: 

  • methotrexate, azathioprine, MMF 

  • Any biologic therapy, also called a mAb (Xolair/omalizumab, Nucala/mepolizumab, Cinqaero/reslizumab, Fasenra/benralizumab); 

  • Anyone taking a long-term steroid - steroid tablets or liquid every day; 

Further details are available on the Asthma.org.uk website. If trainees are not on the medicines listed above, but any of these apply to them then they may benefit from Strict Social Distancing. These include: 

  • you have had an admission to hospital in the last year; 

  • you have needed 2 or more courses of oral steroids in the last year, 

  • OR you are using your blue reliever inhaler 3 or more times per week, 

these trainees may benefit from stricter social distancing and trainees should avoid face to face contact with patients. If trainees are using a reliever inhaler more than 3 times a week we would also recommend that they speak to their GP or asthma nurse about improving asthma control as soon as possible. Trainees may still be able to assist with the management of COVID19 and trainees should discuss this with their tutor or employer. 

If a trainee has stable asthma they should continue to work and protect themselves by taking their regular medication. No additional precautions are required beyond thestablished infection control methods and strict hygiene measures. 

I have diabetes what guidance should I follow? 

Guidance issued by NHS Scotland on 30/3/20 advises that;  diabetes is considered a condition with an increased risk of disease. Risk assessments are advised for individual members of staff with diabetes due to variations. If following a risk assessment, staff are able to continue their role, they should follow the general distancing and hygiene measures.  

I am a black and ethnic minority trainee. Given reports in the media about a higher death rate following COVID19 infections amongst the black & ethnic minority community, should I continue to work with COVID-19 patients? 

There is emerging evidence that Covid-19 has a disproportionate impact on BAME communities. The reasons appear to be complex and are not yet fully understood. Other underlying health conditions such as Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease may be risk factors. Because of this emerging evidence, It has been announced that there will be a review into the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities, led by NHS England and Public Health England (PHE). As more clarity regarding advice and guidance emerges from this and other research, this will be shared with all colleagues.     

In the interim, you should discuss any concerns that you have about Covid-19 and its potential impact on your health with your tutor or employer in the first instance. It is especially important for you to discuss any underlying health conditions that you think put you at greater risk whilst undertaking frontline roles. Importantly, there may also be a need to refer to Occupational Health for their advice with any risk assessment. NHS Education for Scotland takes the health and safety of our staff and trainees very seriously and want to assure you that we will be monitoring the situation closely.

 Further information on this topic and on general wellbeing is available using the following links:

What is the current guidance from the GPhC?  

We are working closely with our colleagues at the GPhC and will provide any further guidance as and when they have any communication relating to any activity for Pre-Registration training.

Please see the update relating to provisional registration of pharmacists released on the 21st May - https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/news/criteria-pharmacist-provisional-registration-agreed 

Please see the related Q&A section for pre-registration trainees - https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/standards/guidance/qa-coronavirus/questions-pre-registration-pharmacists

They request that you contact them only if you have any specific queries that are not answered by these updates and to contact them by e-mail - info@pharmacyregulation.org

Please keep up to date on their website - https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/

When will I have more guidance about applying to join the provisional register?

The GPhC have updated their Q&A section with some further information on applying to join the provisional register which we would advise all trainees and tutors to read:  https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/standards/guidance/qa-coronavirus/questions-pre-registration-pharmacists

Further guidance for trainees and tutors will be available from the GPHC at the point the applications open which is expected to be the 1st July 2020 and they have advised that all trainees who are eligible will be notified.

What happens if my tutor is absent due to COVID-19? 

If a tutor is absent during this period then we would ask the trainee or employer to get in touch with us and we can discuss what supervision is currently in place at the training base, how long this is likely to be for and advise on the best course of action as this will be different in each case. We can discuss individual circumstances with the GPhC and come to the best solution with hopefully the minimum of disruption to training. The GPhC have advised at this time that they only need to be advised if the normal tutor arrangements are disrupted for more than ten weeks.

What happens if I have to move to a different training site due to COVID-19? 

If a trainee is required to move to a different training site by your employer for any reason then we would request the trainee or tutor to get in touch and we can advise on how we can work with the GPhC regarding premises approvals, change forms required and any impact on training. The GPhC have provided further advice on this on their website - https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/standards/guidance/questions-and-answers-coronavirus#pharmacists_and_pharmacy_technicians

Will the GPhC Registration Assessments in June and September 2020 still go ahead?  

The GPhC released a statement on the 26th March 2020 regarding the Registration Assessment for 2020 - https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/news/pre-registration-training-2020-joint-statement-gphc-and-psni  

Further information will be shared as soon as we have it regarding these plans.  

When and how will the rescheduled GPhC Registration Assessments be held? 

Please see the update relating to provisional registration of pharmacists released on the 21st May - https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/news/criteria-pharmacist-provisional-registration-agreed 

Please see the related Q&A section for pre-registration trainees - https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/standards/guidance/qa-coronavirus/questions-pre-registration-pharmacists

How does COVID-19 affect Training Plans?  

As the outbreak intensifies, we recognise there may be circumstances when trainees may be required to offer assistance or support outside of their scheduled training pathways and contracted duties. Trainees may also be temporarily re-directed to duties where they have already demonstrated competency to help with service provision.

In these circumstances it is essential that systems are in place to support trainees and protect patients. Trainee wellbeing must be protected and processes in place to ensure they are not exposed to risks through their work or training.

It is anticipated there will be changes for some trainees in their programmes or rotations and this should take place through a clear process, with priority given to safeguarding patient care and the health of trainees.  GPhC guidance should be followed by all current trainees and the movement of trainees should not compromise the aim for trainees to complete the training within the expected time frame, where appropriate.

Where there are changes in the activities or duties of trainees, priority must be given to:

  • appropriate supervision in the host environment. If they are deployed into clinical areas outside of their training pathway they must have appropriate induction and senior workplace guidance on who they are reporting or being supervised by, with their contact details.
  • allocating activities or duties which align with the individuals’ competence. Trainees must not be asked to undertake any activity beyond their level of competence.
  • trainee health and wellbeing
  • the circumstances being under constant review.

The mandatory requirements of the pre-registration pharmacist training year are for all trainees to demonstrate competence, through the GPhCs performance standards and registration assessment. Considering this, there is a variety of structure and opportunities given to pre-registration pharmacists as part of their training.

It is unfortunate that elements of training have had to be altered, such as study days, cross sector placements and modular programme rotations. But these changes are necessary to manage workload and protect the safety of trainees, patients and the public.

Despite the changes to training programmes, we encourage trainees to continue to work with their tutors to demonstrate competence and prepare for registration as a pharmacist. 

This includes;

  • Reviewing progress with the performance standards.
  • Identifying performance standards that may need additional evidence.
  • Seeking opportunities and activities to demonstrate competence

Do I still need to complete my 39 week (or 13 or 26) appraisal?

In their Q&As guidance published on 3rd April the GPhC have stated that progress reviews still require to be completed, but due to the current pressures these may be later than planned, without impacting on a trainee’s eligibility to sit a registration assessment. Currently there is no deadline for submission.

Trainees should continue to plan for their next review and should assume this is still the next milestone for their training. If this cannot be completed as scheduled, it should be rescheduled. Trainees and tutors should work together to demonstrate competence for each outstanding performance standard, this could be through direct observation or written evidence. It is recognised that some flexibility may be needed in these challenging circumstances.

If a trainee is in a position to submit an appraisal, then this can still be done so. However, please note this should not be submitted to the GPhC at this time. Instead a copy of the completed appraisal should be submitted to NES Pharmacy via Lesley.Morrison@nes.scot.nhs.uk

A trainee should also keep a copy of the completed paperwork themselves, until we know more detail from the GPhC regards how this appraisal will form part of any future applications. 

A remote appraisal can take place, as long as the trainee feels it has been a fair process.

As a tutor/employer how do I support trainees at this time?

We are aware of the significant pressure pharmacy teams are under and the difficulty this creates for supporting trainees. We know that you have had to rearrange services rapidly in different ways to deal with these unprecedented pressures. For many of you this will have meant having to suspend study leave and other educational activities.

Many trainees are now entering the final quarter of their training year. While it is not possible for the vast majority of trainees to follow the training plan set out for them at the start of the year, it is important to take steps to support your trainees to meet the mandatory requirements of the training year, namely the successful demonstration of all performance standards.

The GPhC have stated that they expect progress reviews to occur as expected. However, they have clarified that if you complete these appraisals later than planned, it will not automatically affect the eligibility of trainees to sit the registration assessment.

If progress reviews occur differently to planned, we recommend the following to support your trainees:

  • Ask your trainees to review their progress with the performance standards and consider how outstanding standards can be met in the current climate.
  • Remind your trainees that they can access support from their peers, other pharmacy staff and NES Pharmacy if needed at this time.

Unavoidable changes (e.g. cancellation of cross-sector experience, inability to complete an audit) may mean there is a need to identify alternative approaches for demonstrating competence of some of the performance standards. Further information can be found under the relevant FAQs.

Like all staff, trainees will be working in different ways. However, it is important that trainees spend some of their time undertaking tasks that will help them to demonstrate competence against their outstanding performance standards and efforts should be made to allow them some time to reflect and create their records of evidence.

Please contact NES Pharmacy via Lesley.Morrison@nes.scot.nhs.uk if you need any additional support during these challenging times.

Is there any additional support available to tutors when evaluating trainee’s readiness for final sign off and provisional registration?

A practice paper has been provided to all tutors, the purpose of which is to give an indication of how a trainee would perform in a GPhC style registration assessment. A tutor may use it alongside other methods, to evaluate a trainee’s performance and competency and their readiness for final sign off and provisional registration. 

I have a Tier 2 visa, what is the impact of this on my training? 

Information related to Tier 2 visas has been provided by Pharmacy recruitment to training providers. If you have concerns, please discuss with your tutor/employer in the first instance and if you still have queries please contact Pharmacy recruitment directly Pharmacy.Recruitment@nes.scot.nhs.uk  

The Home Office has a page dedicated to COVID-19 updates for Tier 2 sponsorship:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

The Home Office has updated guidance about Visa extensions for NHS and frontline health workers during coronavirus (COVID-19)
https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-frontline-health-worker-visa-extension

Where can I go for help if I am not coping as well as usual with work? 

This is a worrying time for everyone in society and especially for health care workers. As a pre-registration pharmacist, you will also have concerns about how the Covid-19 situation might impact on your training progress.  

Queries about any aspects of training should be sent to Lesley.Morrison@nes.scot.nhs.uk. The mailbox is reviewed daily. It is obviously important that we all look after ourselves during this time. If you feel that you are working beyond your competencies, are struggling with increased work pressures or have personal or health issues which are significantly affecting you, please tell somebody. Your tutor should still be available to speak to you as are we in the NES Pharmacy team.  

 Trainees may also find it helpful to contact other organisations such as Pharmacist Support - the profession’s independent charity - who offer free and confidential support covering wellbeing. You can access a range of information and resources on their website. To speak with a member of their support team directly, call 0808 168 2233, 0808 168 5133 or email info@pharmacistsupport.org

There are also wellbeing apps available which are offering limited free access for NHS Staff such as Unmind and Headspace. These science backed apps aim to provide tools and resources to help reduce stress, build resilience, and aid better sleep.

NES Learn page for psychosocial support and wellbeing resources 

https://learn.nes.nhs.scot/28063/coronavirus-covid-19/psychosocial-support-and-wellbeing# 

How do I contact the NES Pharmacy Team?  

Our team is working remotely following the government advice to do so – so please contact us by e-mail rather than trying to call, it would be useful if you include a telephone number that we can contact you on and one of the team will respond to you by e-mail or phone as soon as possible.  

Please direct e-mails to Lesley Morrison who will direct to the most appropriate member of the NES pharmacy team –Lesley.Morrison@nes.scot.nhs.uk

We have been instructed that no members of staff will be allowed access to the NES buildings during the current difficult period unless absolutely necessary and some buildings are closed. Mail cannot, therefore, be retrieved or distributed. If you have sent correspondence by post recently, on or after Monday 23rd March 2020, please contact the recipient to ensure it has been received. Up until recently, we have been able to retrieve and scan post as appropriate. Please send any further correspondence as scanned copies via e-mail to the address above. This includes expenses claims, GPhC progress reports and Change of Training Details forms.  

As you will understand, with the rapidly changing situation, aspects of this guidance may be subject to change. We will keep you updated with these changes as they take effect. We will need to consider every situation on a case by case basis.