Return to Practice

Formal Position

In a sense, there are two separate but overlapping issues that overarch 'Return to Practice': whether an individual is registered with General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and whether they are competent to undertake the roles they seek.

If an individual is not-registered, they may have to satisfy the GPhC that they are competent to undertake the roles they seek, in order to register. This will often mean that they need to undertake activities such as return-to-practice courses or partake in other CPD activities. (If an individual wishes to work in industry, academia, veterinary pharmacy or journalism the activities are likely to differ significantly from those needed if a role in community or hospital pharmacy is involved).

If an individual is registered, the responsibility lies with them not to undertake work that they cannot do properly. They may judge they need to undertake activities such as return-to-practice courses or partake in other CPD activities relevant to their intended role.

A person with a pharmacy qualification can no longer return to registered status automatically. In most cases re-registration will be complex and probably frustrating, but not difficult in the academic or professional sense. The GPhC will have to be satisfied that the individual can safely return to the type of p the returner wished to undertake.

To achieve a return to the register returners should look at the GPhC website for up to date information. Returners may need to contact the Education and Quality Assurance Division of GPhC to discuss the application before submitting it. However, in England, help is available from CPPE who are running sessions to provide guidance to those planning to rejoin the register. The requirements will differ between individuals and involve variables such as time away from any form of practice, planned sphere of work etc.

To achieve competence in community pharmacy, help can be obtained from CPPE (for England), WCPPE (for Wales) and NHS Education Scotland [Pharmacy]. Broadly speaking, this is available to all returners regardless of whether they are on or off register.

Additionally, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has a support service that can help returners with advice and, over the next few years, it is planned that some support will be available at a local level.

It is worth remembering that the definition of 'practice' used by the GPhC is very broad. If you have stayed on the practicing register but been doing little or no paid work, it does not follow that you have not been 'practicing'. For example, some voluntary activities, article-writing, and caring duties may fall within the definition of practice. So, for registration purposes do not be too hasty when considering whether or not past, present or future activities are 'practice'.

Friendly support for returners

NAWP is keen to help pharmacists, both men and women, return to community practice or help pharmacists who wish to move from another area of practice to community. To a limited extent, we are able to offer support and assist with sympathetic work placements, but can also provide support in other ways.

Whether you are a male or female pharmacist, NAWP may be able to help you by providing:

  • Low-level continuing support
  • Introduction to work opportunities with sympathetic employers in the UK

If you have a particular difficulty affecting your return (e.g. current or recent caring duties for a relative; health or disability issues; low income), you might want to contact Pharmacist Support. This is the organization that helps all pharmacists, former pharmacists and their families. They can offer a large range of advice and support, including help finding out how you might be financially affected by returning, if you have been receiving any state financial support. A summary of the services provided can be found on this website.

NAWP has been supporting pharmacists returning or moving to community practice for many years. Over the last few years this has been by:

  • providing a supportive network through its membership
  • Offering some support to find sympathetic employment or work shadowing
  • CPD opportunities (including a relaxed annual conference, usually in April)
  • the chance to be involved in small novel projects (in some regions)

Work opportunities for those returning to practice

There are no national provisions to help find work placement (paid or unpaid) for those returning to pharmacy after a break. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is hoping to facilitate this type of support through Local Practice forums. Apart from utilizing contacts such as friends, former colleagues and local pharmacies this is probably the best route. NAWP can sometimes assist but only has a small number of contacts who can help It is well worth contacting us, though.

NAWP is always willing to hear from, or about, other employers who are willing to help returners.

If these options are of interest to you, please make contact via No cost is involved. Membership of NAWP costs up to £30, depending on work status, and is open to men and women.