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Council President makes announcement regarding the forthcoming registration examination

Dr Jim Livingstone, President of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society NI, has made the following announcement concerning the registration examination, which is scheduled to take place on 11 August 2020.




Announcement  from Dr Jim Livingstone, President of the Pharmaceutical Society NI

First and foremost, I want to thank and congratulate this year’s pre-reg students for the extraordinary contribution they have made during the current pandemic to sustaining and protecting the health and wellbeing of the Northern Ireland community. They can justifiably be proud of the important part they have played in this vital work in often extremely difficult circumstances.

I am pleased to announce that all the student candidates for the Registration Examination 2020 have now successfully secured their place at one of the new examination venues – Methodist College Belfast, Ulster University Jordanstown and Ulster University Coleraine.

I am sure students will understand, given that student candidates are living and serving in all six counties, it was not reasonably possible to have venues near to everyone nor indeed venues with which all candidates would be familiar.  However, research would indicate that travel time between most destinations in such areas as Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh to Belfast or Coleraine is very similar.

The Council of the Pharmaceutical Society NI, which comprises 50% registrant members and 50% lay members, originally decided to delay the Registration Examination by three months to provide students with additional time to study following the inevitable interruptions to the usual training pattern and protected study time.

In sourcing venues for the Registration Examination, the principles of ensuring student welfare and safety have been paramount.  Where one venue (Queen’s University Belfast) would previously have accommodated all students sitting the examination, this year three venues had to be sourced to ensure compliance with Covid-19 guidelines.  Extensive research was undertaken into the viability of using many different venues, most of which could not accept a booking due to the closure of their facilities (including our usual provider QUB).  Other venues did not meet requirements for social distancing, particularly in relation to access and egress.

However, thankfully, in recognition of the difficulties posed by Covid-19 restrictions and the importance of the Registration Examination to increase the qualified pharmacy workforce in Northern Ireland at a time of unprecedented need, the University of Ulster (Coleraine and Jordanstown) and Methodist College Belfast agreed to take their respective properties out of lockdown solely to facilitate this examination.  On behalf of Council, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the management, committees, faculty and departmental staff of these venues for their assistance, support and advice.  

With each confirmed venue, came the requirement for additional staff, invigilators and in-house service providers to facilitate the examination.  Extensive risk assessments were carried out and plans put in place for cleaning and PPE to ensure that student candidates will, at all times, be able to safely meet the government guidelines including the ability to accommodate social distancing and I thank all those who have offered their services.

It has been a mammoth task, particularly during a global pandemic, to ensure that Northern Ireland students can sit the Registration Examination for which they have studied and trained for five years and which will enable them to take their rightful place as much needed, qualified pharmacists in our community.

Inevitably, we have received a small number of complaints from candidates who were unable to secure a place at the venue of their choice. The allocation of a place at each examination venue was on a first-come, first-served basis and all candidates were forewarned simultaneously of the opening of registration the week before.  Regrettably, not every candidate could be accommodated at the venue of their choice given the current restrictions.  I hope those disappointed candidates will understand that this was unavoidable in the present circumstances.

The Pharmaceutical Society NI has worked tirelessly and constructively to give this year’s student candidates every opportunity to fulfil their desire to qualify as pharmacists and our priority now is to deliver the Registration Examination on 11 August 2020 at Methodist College Belfast, Ulster University Coleraine and Ulster University Jordanstown.  

Venue-specific information will be provided to students and further information will be made available as the examination approaches including updates on transport routes and guidelines.  I hope and trust that employers, tutors and the representative organisations will assist students with any concerns around travel to, or accommodation near, examination venues.

I extend to all student candidates every best wish and good luck as they take their final steps to enter this important profession and I look forward to welcoming you onto the Register of the Pharmaceutical Society NI in the very near future.

Dr Jim Livingstone


08 July 2020