EEA pharmacists preparing to work in Great Britain

Are you planning on working in Great Britain? This page is for pharmacists from the EEA, who have joined, or are preparing to join the GPhC register.

This fact sheet is for pharmacists from the EEA, who have joined, or are preparing to join the GPhC register, and are planning to work as a pharmacist in GB. Newly qualified pharmacists may also find some of the information about advanced services useful.

EU residents who are already in the UK

Pharmacist who are EU citizens and were living in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021. Pharmacists who are EU citizens and have arrived or will be arriving in the UK after 1 January 2021 will need to apply for a visa.

For further information about the EU Settlement Scheme, see the government website. 

Health and Care Worker visa

Pharmacists must meet all of the following requirements to be eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa:

  • they must be a qualified pharmacist
  • the job offer must be eligible for this visa
  • pharmacists must be working for a UK health and care sector employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • pharmacists must be paid the minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work they will be doing – whichever is higher

Pharmacists will also need:

  • an employer who fits the criteria to act as a sponsor
  • a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) code
  • an appropriate job offer and salary

The Occupational code for pharmacists is 2213.

For further information about the Health and Care worker visa, see the government website.

Skilled Worker visa

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, pharmacists must:

  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from their employer with information about the role they have been offered in the UK
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work done

The Occupational code for pharmacists is 2213.

For further information about the Skilled Worker visa, see the government website.

The GB job market

In some areas of the country competition for jobs may be high. Finding work as a pharmacist is not easy for pharmacists who have no GB experience and registration with the GPhC is no guarantee of work. Pharmacists will need to ensure that they are up-to-date with the kind of advanced services that GB pharmacists are expected to deliver, for example, flu vaccinations. Without these skills, EEA pharmacists will find that they do not match the person specification requirements set out by most employers.

Advanced services

There are currently five advanced services within the NHS community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF). Community pharmacies can choose to provide any of these services and many employers will expect pharmacists to deliver at least some of them. The advanced services are as follows:-

  • new medicine service (NMS)
  • appliance use reviews (AUR)
  • stoma appliance customisation (SAC)
  • flu vaccination service
  • Covid 19 vaccination service.

Training

EEA pharmacists might want to consider taking some courses to help them to prepare for practice in the UK and also to enhance their chances of gaining employment.

Return to practice training course

The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) has a course called Return to practice that EEA pharmacists may find useful. This is a four day residential course and pharmacists who wish to attend this course will need to sign a declaration stating that they intend to practice in a community pharmacy providing NHS services in England within six months of starting the course. Please note, there is a charge for this course. For further information, see the CPPE website.

New Medicine Service (NMS)

The NMS provides support for people with long-term conditions who have been prescribed new medicine/s in order to improve medicines adherence. The PSNC reports that since the introduction of the NMS in October 2011, more than 90% of all community pharmacies in England have provided this service to their patients and EEA pharmacists would be expected to help with the provision of NMS.

For further information about NMS, see the PSNC website.

NMS self-assessment form

NMS can only be delivered by pharmacists who have the necessary skills and knowledge. Pharmacists who are suitably skilled can sign the NMS self-assessment form.

The NMS self-assessment form is available to download on the PSNC website.

Appliance Use Review (AUR)

Pharmacists who are presented with a prescription for a ‘specified appliance’ will need to ensure that the patient can consult with somebody in order to obtain expert clinical advice about the appliance. This can be another suitably qualified person, for example, a suitably trained nurse or the original prescriber; alternatively, a trained pharmacist can offer the patient an AUR.

AURs can be carried out by a pharmacist in a pharmacy setting or in a patient’s home. Whilst the directions which establish the AUR service do not require pharmacists to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service check, pharmacists should note that many employers will require this as standard.

For further information about AURs, see the PSNC website.

Disclosure and Barring Service checks (DBS)

An employer will ask you to fill in an application form and provide proof of identity. The employer will then submit the completed form for the DBS check. If you are registered with an agency they will ordinarily arrange for a DBS check for you.

For further information about DBS, contact the DBS customer services department on 0870 909 0811 or see the government website. In Scotland, see the Disclosure Scotland website.

Stoma Appliance Customisation (SAC)

The requirements for providing SAC are much the same as those set out for AUR. Pharmacists must be trained to an appropriate standard. Appropriate training must cover knowledge of what the appliances are used for, the importance of proper fitting and hygiene.

For further information about providing SAC, see the PSNC website.

CPPE: stoma management module

The CPPE offers an e-learning programme that has been developed and provided by the Northern Ireland Centre for Pharmacy Learning and Development (NICPLD). This programme should help pharmacists to provide practical advice to people and detail the various types of appliances and accessories available to patients with stomas.

For further information, see the CPPE website.

Flu vaccination service

All pharmacists providing this service have to demonstrate that they have the skills needed to do so. The national minimum standards for immunisation training and the associated core curriculum for immunisation training set out the knowledge and skills needed. For further details on minimum standards, see the government website.

For further information about the flu vaccination service, see the PSNC website.

Declaration of Competence (DoC)

The Declaration of Competence has been developed to enable pharmacists to demonstrate that they are service-ready and have the appropriate knowledge, skills and behaviours to deliver high-quality consistent services. A DoC will be needed in order to provide the flu vaccination service. DoCs can also be used for a range of additional services.

For further information, see the CPPE Declaration of Competence fact sheet.

False declarations

Pharmacists should note that signing a DoC based purely on the fact that this is a service they have already provided, for example, in another country, would constitute a false declaration. The GPhC would view a false declaration as a breach of its standards and this would become a GPhC disciplinary matter. Even the most experienced pharmacists should work through the DoC to assure themselves that they are competent.

Flu vaccination training providers

The following organisations provide flu vaccination courses:-

If you are a training provider who offers flu vaccination courses and you are not included in list, please e-mail info@pharmacistsupport.org to be added to the list

Covid 19 vaccination training

The roll-out of the Covid 19 vaccination programme is underway and pharmacies are continuing to develop their offering to the general public. Pharmacists will need to undertake training before they can offer this service. Training will include:

  • vaccine specifics – for example, how it is made, how it works, what it contains
  • who the vaccine should be given to
  • contraindications and precautions
  • legal issues including obtaining consent and legal framework to supply/administer the vaccine (PGD/PSD/protocol/patient specific prescription)
  • how the vaccine should be stored
  • how to prepare the vaccine
  • how and at which anatomical site to administer the vaccine
  • how to recognise and respond to side effects following immunisation
  • how to dispose of vaccine equipment
  • what to expect after vaccination and other information to give those who have been vaccinated
  • where to record that COVID-19 vaccine has been given and what to record
  • supervision and delegation responsibilities
  • how to put on and take off the personal protective equipment (PPE) required for immunisation
  • infection prevention and control measures

Pharmacists who have not undertaken Basic Life Support (BLS) and anaphylaxis training  within the last year will also need to update their training in both areas.

For further information about all aspects of training, see the government website.

Proof of English language proficiency

Under a new rule all pharmacists will have to declare that they have the necessary knowledge of English for safe and effective practice. Pharmacists who are registering for the first time will be required to provide proof. This applies to all pharmacists, regardless of country of origin. Competence must be demonstrated in:-

  • reading
  • writing
  • listening
  • speaking.

Proof must also be recent (within the last two years), objective and independent.

Pharmacists who do not automatically meet the requirements, for example, have not graduated with an MPharm from a UK university and have not undertaken a pre-registration placement and assessment in the UK, can use any of the following as proof of English language proficiency:-

  • a recent pass of the academic version of the IELTS test with an overall score of at least 7 in each of the four areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking at one sitting of the test. Please note, the GPhC may accept test results that are more than two years old but it will depend entirely on circumstances such as if a pharmacist has been working in a majority English speaking country and spent at least 75% of their day interacting with other patients and staff in English.
  • a recent pass of the Pharmacy Occupational English Language Test (OELT) with an overall score of at least a B in each of the four areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking at one sitting of the test.
  • a recent pharmacy qualification that has been taught and examined in English in a majority English speaking country
  • recent practice for at least two years as a pharmacy professional in a majority English speaking country.

For further information about language requirements, see the GPhC guidance.

English language courses

If you wish to develop your language skills, you could consider taking a course.

BBC

The BBC offers free language courses. Pharmacists can choose from Learning English as a foreign language or Improving your English. For further information, see the BBC website.

International English Language Testing System

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is one of the exam options that can serve as proof of compliance with the GPhC regulations. Pharmacists must achieve a score of at least 7 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

For further information on tests and sample questions, see the IELTS website.

Pharmacy Occupational English Language Testing System

The Occupation English Language testing system (OET) covers all four language skills with an emphasis on communication in a healthcare environment, and is also one of the exam options that can serve as proof of compliance with the GPhC regulations. Pharmacists must achieve a score of at least a B in the OET.

For further information on tests and sample questions, see the OET website.

English for speakers of other languages 

English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses cover basics including speaking, reading, writing, spelling and grammar. To find English courses in your local area you can use the National Careers Service website search facility. For further information, visit the National Careers Service website.

Professional indemnity insurance

All pharmacists who are applying to join the register must have professional indemnity insurance in place before they start to practise. This can be:-

  • a personal insurance policy
  • an arrangement made by an employer for indemnity cover
  • an arrangement though a professional body or trade union
  • any combination of the above.

This cover needs to be appropriate to the individual pharmacist’s role and it will also need to take into account the nature and extent of the risks involved. For example, a pharmacist who is also an independent prescriber will need more cover than a community pharmacist offering standard services.

The GPhC will not give advice about the level of cover an individual pharmacist will need. Pharmacists should seek advice from their insurance provider to ensure that their level of cover is adequate.

Pharmacists must inform the GPhC within seven days if they cease to have indemnity cover. Pharmacists do not need to inform the GPhC about routine changes, such as switching provider.

For further information on professional indemnity insurance requirements, see the GPhC guidance.

Patient consultation skills

Pharmacists might want to consider developing and improving their consultation skills.

Consultation Skills for Pharmacy Practice

This website has been developed by CPPE and NHS Health Education England for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. It includes a learning pathway, a range of training formats, for example, e-learning and printed workbooks and an assessment framework. For further information, see the Consultation Skills for Pharmacy Practice website.

Other pharmacy related training

The CPPE also offers a range of other short training courses. If you have not yet registered with the GPhC, you can still register with the CPPE and access some of their programmes. For further information, see the CPPE website.

Employment offers

All employment contracts should be carefully checked before signing. If the salary being offered is very low, pharmacists might want to seek advice before accepting a job offer. Bear in mind that the cost of living in the UK can be very high, in particular in South East England and London. Pharmacists who are offered a role as a dispenser might want to get a list of their duties from a prospective employer to ensure that it would not involve any work that forms part of the role of the responsible pharmacist. The rate of pay and level of responsibilities given to a pharmacist are far greater than that of a dispenser.

Trade unions

Pharmacists might want to consider joining a union. Unions can offer advice about contracts, in particular around pay and conditions. They can also help if something goes wrong, for example, if a pharmacist becomes involved in a dispute with an employer or is subject to a GPhC investigation. The two specialist unions for pharmacists are the:-

Pharmacists could also opt for a trade union that supports health care professionals in general, for example, UNISON.

Employment advice from Pharmacist Support

If you are faced with issues at work and are unsure of your rights, Pharmacist Support can help by referring you to our specialist CAB employment adviser. If you wish to use this service please contact us on 0808 168 2233 or email info@pharmacistsupport.org.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society services

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) offers members a range of services that may be useful to newly registered pharmacists. In some circumstances, the RPS offers a reduced membership fee to pharmacists. For further details, see the RPS website.

RPS mentoring

The RPS mentoring service can put you in touch with an experienced pharmacist who can help you to develop a better understanding of practising in GB. Pharmacists can choose from a one-off session focusing on a specific issue, or opt for a long term relationship that will enable them to build confidence and enhance their skills. The RPS online mentoring database helps to match mentor and mentee. For further information, see the RPS website.

Alternative careers

Pharmacists who are having difficulty in finding work as a pharmacist might want to consider other career options. Our Careers advice and options for pharmacy graduates fact sheet contains a list of suggestions for alternative careers including working as a teacher or a pharmacy technician.

For further information, see the Careers advice and options for pharmacy graduates fact sheet.

Pharmacist Support

While someone is unable to find work Pharmacist Support can provide specialist advice on benefits entitlement. If you would like to speak to a specialist benefits adviser to ensure that you are receiving any benefits to which you are entitled, contact us on 0808 168 2233 or email info@pharmacistsupport.orgIn cases of real financial hardship, we may be able to provide limited financial assistance.

Turn2us benefits calculator

Turn2us have an online benefits calculator that can help people find out the benefits to which they may be entitled. The calculator is free, anonymous and easy to use.

For further details about the benefits calculator, including a checklist of the information needed in order to use the calculator, see the Turn2us website.

See also our Looking for work: job vacancy sites fact sheet

This fact sheet was last reviewed on 28 July 2021.

Registering as a pharmacist

Are you ready to join the GPhC register as a pharmacist? We have lots of advice about registering for the first time and beginning to work as a pharmacist.

Looking for work: job vacancy sites

Are you looking for a new job? This page contains a list of specialist pharmacist sites, locum sites and more general job sites.

Careers for pharmacists

Are you planning a career change? This page is for pharmacists who are looking for an alternative career, either within the pharmaceutical environment or in non-pharmacy-related work.