This page contains information about employment contracts for foundation trainee pharmacists. It includes information on what to look for in a contract and where to seek advice.
This page is a guide for pharmacy students and trainee pharmacist applicants who would like to apply for a foundation training placement in England, Scotland or Wales using Oriel.
Scottish applicants are now included in the Oriel system. This means that all applicants can use the system to apply for placements in England, Wales or Scotland. The two systems have tried wherever possible to synchronise the opening and close dates of the various parts of the Oriel process.
If you want to apply for a placement in Scotland, and in England and Wales, you will have to put in two separate application forms. One for Scotland, and one for England and Wales. You will also have to complete two preferencing lists, however you will only need to do one SJT and one numeracy test.
- About Oriel
- Eligibility criteria
- Oriel recruitment timeline
- Application submission deadline
- Programme types and preferences
- Selection process
- Requesting adjustments
- Receiving an offer
- Applying for a foundation placement without using Oriel
- Other useful information and support
Oriel is a portal used for the recruitment of a variety of healthcare professions. All pharmacy hospital foundation placements will be advertised via Oriel, and some, but not all community foundation placements. Students will be able to find community placements without Oriel in England, but should note that all available placements, no matter the sector, for Wales and Scotland will be advertised by Oriel alone.
The NHS has produced a handbook containing guidance to help applicants to submit a successful application. This covers areas including how to access Oriel and what information applicants will need to support their application.
The handbook can also be downloaded from the resource bank section of the Oriel website. The 2023 handbook for placements starting in 2024 is due to be available in Mid May.
The following groups are eligible to apply for foundation placements via Oriel:-
- All current third-year UK MPharm undergraduates, any current third-year UK MPharm student who has not consented for their School of Pharmacy to provide their details as requested by the PNRO will not be eligible to apply
- UK MPharm graduates
- Current Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme (OSPAP) students
- OSPAP graduates
- Bradford sandwich students.
Bradford sandwich students should note that they will apply to Oriel via their own vacancy offering, which is separate to the national vacancy offering. Guidance will be provided to these students via Bradford University. For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The following groups are not eligible to apply for foundation placements via Oriel:-
- EEA pharmacists requiring adaptation training
- applicants who have failed the registration assessment and are waiting to sit their second or third attempt
- applicants who have already banked some training with the GPhC.
Oriel recruitment timeline
- Oriel applications open 7th June 2023(12:00pm GMT)
- Oriel applications close 21 June 2023 (12:00pm GMT)
- Preferencing window opens 26th July 2023
- Numeracy/SJT centre booking window opens 2nd August 2023
- Numeracy/SJT centre booking window closes 16th August 2023
- SJT/Numeracy selection centre held 21st September – 5th October 2023
- Preferencing window closes 31st October 2023
- First round of offers released early November 2023
- Offers upgrade deadline late November 2023
- Programmes commence July/August 2024
You should note that the deadline for submissions is midday on 21 June 2023. Late applications will not be accepted. Try to ensure that you submit your form in plenty of time. Leaving it until the very last minute is not a good idea.
Once the applications window has closed, long-listing by Oriel will begin. This will include checks to verify the eligibility of applicants. Some applicants may be required to provide additional information and applicants are advised to answer any such queries promptly to avoid having their application withdrawn from the recruitment process. You should note that potential employers have no input in the long-listing process. Employers will only be notified about potential candidates at the end of the Oriel recruitment process (see below under, What happens when an offer has been accepted section).
Types of programmes
Information about the various programmes on offer will be available to view from the point of registration. You should register as soon as possible to allow time to make decisions about which programmes to apply for. Applicants will only need to submit one form, no matter how many programs they opt for. Applicants who apply for a placement in Scotland, and England and Wales will need to submit two forms.
Before starting an application, candidates are advised to read the person specification, job description, and professional attributes framework guidance.
You will not be asked to express your preferences from the programmes advertised when you first submit your application form. You will need to complete your preferencing during the preferencing window, which will run from the 26 July to 31 October 2023.
Please note, a programme is not necessarily an individual job offer, a programme can be a number of positions being offered by one employer. For example, a large multiple could have a programme containing multiple placements. You will not be asked to express a preference for one individual role from within a programme.
A number of filters are available to help applicants to choose their preferences. These include:-
- size of organisation (community only)
- specialty (hospital only)
- the number of placements available within a programme
- the country/area in which the program is based
- name of training provider
- international students who are planning to apply for a skilled worker visa will need to choose employers who have SWV (skilled worker visa) within their programme preference code
- international students who are planning to apply for a graduate visa can apply for all jobs, they will not need a sponsor.
There are three preference levels:-
- preference – you should mark programmes you would be happy to accept and rank all preferences starting with number 1 for most preferred
- no preference– all programmes are listed in this way initially. If you choose to mark a programme as no preference it will mean that you are happy to take an offer from this programme if your initial preferences are not successful
- not wanted – you should select this option for any programmes you would not be willing to accept under any circumstances
You can select the preference option for as many programmes as you wish. You can change your preferences as often as needed during the preferencing window.
You will be able to move programmes in bulk from within the preferencing section of the application. This will be useful if you know that there are certain types of programmes that you are not interested in. For example, if you are only interested in hospital placements you can use the filtering tool to show all community programmes and then bulk preference them in the ‘not wanted’ category.
Enhanced preferencing comes into effect after offers have been made. It is designed to provide an opportunity for some applicants to change their preferencing at a very late stage.
If you have received and accepted an offer you will be able to select upgrade options for programmes that are ranked both higher and lower in your preferencing table.
Applicants who have not received an offer will be able to amend their preferences up until the final round of offers. This will include re-ranking programmes from their ‘preferenced’ category and/or moving preferences from within the ‘no preference’ and ‘not wanted’ categories.
Enhanced preferencing will take place between offer rounds and you will be informed via Oriel when this service is available.
Specifying a preferred location
You will only be able to specify a particular geographical area under the following circumstances:-
- if you are the primary carer for a disabled person
- if you have a medical condition or disability for which ongoing treatment/follow up will be needed in the specified location as an absolute requirement. So if, for example, the treatment you need is readily available elsewhere in the country the request for a specific location will not be considered.
Applicants with special circumstances must provide supporting evidence. Parental responsibilities will not be taken into consideration when requesting a specific location.
There are a number of filters available when selecting preferences that will allow you to narrow their geographical area if needed
For further information, see the Foundation pharmacy recruitment handbook.
A brief guide for pharmacy students and trainee pharmacist applicants who would like to apply for a foundation training placement in England, Scotland or Wales using Oriel.
Selection centre invitations
Invitations to the selection centre interviews will be sent out via e-mail. The SJT and numeracy test will both take place on the same day at the same venue. The MMI test will be undertaken separately on a different day at a different venue.
Selection centre interviews and assessments
Applicants will be assessed against criteria taken directly from the Person Specification and Foundation Pharmacist Professional Attributes Framework. The NHS recommends that all candidates read both of these documents thoroughly to aid preparation for the interview and assessment day.
Both documents can be accessed via the HEE on-line support portal.
The Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI)
There will be no MMIs this year owing to the government social distancing guidance during the pandemic.
All SJT/numeracy tests will take place at a Pearson VUE Centre. You will need to arrive 15 minutes before their booked time. The tests will take place between 21 September-5 October 2023.
You should also note that you may be sitting with people who are taking non HEE trainee pharmacy recruitment tests, for example, a driver theory test.
The numeracy test
The numeracy test lasts approximately fifteen minutes. Smartphones and smartwatches are prohibited, however, you will be able to take a calculator into the numeracy test.
Only the following calculators are permitted:
- Casio MX-8S-WE (this model is still permitted in the assessment although it is now discontinued)
- Casio MX 8B-WE / MX-8B
- Aurora HC133
- Aurora DT210
You should note that their calculators will be subject to a visual inspection prior to the test. Other items, such as spare calculators, calculator covers, keystroke cards, instruction manuals and spare batteries will not be permitted in the testing room. You can store these items in a secure locker and request to retrieve them if needed during the test.
The SJT is an online test examining four of the attributes from within the Foundation Pharmacist Professional Attributes Framework. The test will consist of 52 scenarios and takes 104 minutes to complete. SJT examples can be viewed on the HEE website.
Applicants who wish to request reasonable adjustments for a medical condition or disability, for example, for the selection centre interviews and assessments, will need to fill in the on-line Request for Adjustments form.
Following the interviews applicants’ scores are loaded to Oriel which will then generate unique ranks based on scores. Applicants are then matched to programmes according to rank and then preference.
Oriel will make the first offers in mid-November. You will be notified of offers via e-mail. Once the offers are made you have 48 hours excluding weekends and bank holidays to either accept, accept with upgrades, or decline an offer. If you decline an offer you will be removed from the process. If you let an offer expire you will be removed from the process. Once you have been removed you will no longer be eligible to receive any subsequent offers.
If you opt in to the upgrade option, you automatically be upgraded to any of your higher-ranked preferences should they become available. The upgrades deadline has yet to be confirmed but it should be towards the end of November.
Depending on the number of programmes left at the end of the offer process, a clearing process to match remaining candidates to available programmes may be undertaken. If clearing does take place,you will have the option to re-preference all of the remaining programmes and offers will then be made according to your ranking.
Accepting an offer
Information about successful applicants will be passed on to employers in December. The NHS recommends that applicants wait for their employer to contact them.
All offers will be subject to pre-employment checks, for example, occupational health checks and appropriate references. These checks will normally be done between January and March 2024.
You should ask to see a copy of your employment contract before you begin your placement.
Whilst all hospital placements will only be offered via Oriel, many community placements will still be offered independently. You should note that even those community pharmacies who are using Oriel may still be offering additional placements that will not require an on-line Oriel application submission.
A full list of all employers using the Oriel recruitment system will be made available in June.
Help with filling in an application form
Some candidates might like to seek assistance before completing an application form. Students could contact their personal tutor for further assistance.
Graduates could contact their university graduate careers service. All universities offer a graduate careers service as standard.
Health Education England (HEE) Foundation Trainee Pharmacist Recruitment Applicant Handbook
The HEE handbook contains a wealth of information about applying for a placement using the Oriel recruitment portal. To view a copy of the handbook on-line, go to the resource bank section of the Oriel website.
Health Education England (HEE) Support Portal
Health Education England has set up a support portal to assist applicants with queries regarding completion of an application form. This support portal holds information about registration pharmacy recruitment, including a list of FAQs. Applicants who cannot find an answer to their query also have the option of submitting an enquiry. This service is available from Monday-Friday 9.00-17.00.
Enquiries can be submitted via hee.freshdesk.com/support/home
Alternatively, applicants can visit the HEE student zone.
This page was reviewed and updated in April 2023.