The Home Office has agreed to offer overseas pre-registration pharmacists a free one-year extension to their UK visas, it was announced yesterday (Wednesday April 29).
The announcement has been welcomed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and British Pharmaceutical Students' Association, who wrote jointly to home secretary Priti Patel recently urging her to confirm that the Government’s visa extension policy during Covid-19 would also cover pre-reg pharmacists.
The extension, which applies to frontline workers whose visas are due to expire before October 1, will help pre-reg pharmacists “focus on contributing to the provision of key services, combating coronavirus and saving lives,” the RPS and BPSA said in a joint statement today.
The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed the extension will apply to provisionally registered pharmacists who are in employment; provisional registrations are expected to be rolled out in August.
“We will be continuing discussions in relation to international trainees without employment in the period between the end of pre-registration training and the registration assessment,” said the RPS and BPSA.
The extension comes into effect immediately and is for visas expiring between March 31 and October 1 2020. Employers will need to notify the Home Office to request an extension.
RPS President Sandra Gidley said: “It will be vital to support and maintain the pharmacy workforce in the coming months so this is welcome news for pharmacists, and their families, who are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’d urge employers to contact the Home Office to request the extensions for their teams.”
BPSA President Regan McCahill said: “Pre-registration pharmacists are working on the frontline to support patient care, so it’s only right this has been recognised by the Government. We’ve also called for support for pre-registration pharmacists who may not currently be in employment and will be speaking to government and the regulator further.”