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Pharmacists improve people’s lives by delivering safe drugs and quality healthcare advice. They are vital healthcare team members due to their specific skills and knowledge. However, pharmacists are now in low supply in the United Kingdom, which is why the government has put pharmacists on the list of shortage occupations for immigration reasons. Therefore, the Uk allows foreign pharmacy graduates to immigrate to the UK as pharmacists and pursue their careers.

 In detail, this essay will explain how to immigrate to the UK as a pharmacist, the qualifications and steps, visa options for pharmacists, and their salaries.

Are Immigrant Pharmacists in Demand in the UK?

So, while pharmacy and pharmacist employment may not be what they were years ago, current studies indicate that it is a career that will continue to be in demand.

Since the UK has added additional healthcare occupations to the Shortage Occupation List, foreign-trained pharmacists and other healthcare experts will now find it simpler to register, work, and reside in the UK.

More than 82 percent of pharmacy graduates find jobs in the UK six months after graduation. Even better, 98 percent of those hired graduates were pharmacists, indicating that anyone studying pharmacy had a good chance of getting a job.

 The accreditation of OET by the General Pharmaceutical Council in the United Kingdom has also boosted pharmacists.

Where Do Pharmacists Work in the Uk?

Pharmacists usually work in 

  • Neighborhood pharmacies
  • Hospitals
  • Academia
  • Services for mental health
  • Primary care, which includes general practice
  • The pharmaceutical businesses

Pharmacists’ Skills and Requirements in the UK

Pharmacists:

  • must be meticulous and detail-oriented
  • Have the ability to absorb criticism and operate effectively under stress
  • Have sensitivity and comprehension
  • Have abilities in customer service
  • Be patient and can remain calm under pressure
  • Be understanding of mathematics
  • Be exceptional at verbal speaking abilities
  • Have English reading ability
  • Should be knowledgeable in the usage of a computer and the major software packages

Pharmacists’ Working Conditions

Pharmacists are often employed in retail drugstores or health care facilities, including hospitals, nursing homes, mental health institutes, or community health clinics. Their workspace resembles a miniature laboratory regarding cleanliness, organization, lighting, and ventilation. Pharmacists are on their feet for most of the day. Their task may be intellectually taxing due in part to the hundreds of medications in the medical armory and the necessity to stay current on the new treatments launched each year. 

 Their job necessitates accuracy and utmost caution when handling and storing medications and chemicals. Therefore, pharmacists use gloves, masks, and other specific protection equipment while working with sterile or hazardous pharmaceutical items.

 Pharmacists often work a 40-hour work week. There are also part-time and on-call positions available. They may also work evenings, weekends, nights, and holidays, especially if the facility is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, pharmacists may visit nursing homes or other institutions to supervise patients’ medication regimens. Self-employed pharmacists may work more than 40 hours each week.

What are Pharmacy Positions in the UK?

There are three kinds of Pharmacy jobs:

  • Pharmacy for Primary Care
  • Pharmacy in the Community
  • Pharmacy at a Hospital

Pharmacy for Primary Care

In England, Primary Care Pharmacists will provide the following services directly to GPs as practice pharmacists or to Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) or Local Health Boards (LHBs) in Wales or Scotland:

  • Medication management
  • Prescription assistance
  • Advice on professional development
  • Coordination of pharmacy clinical governance

Pharmacy in the Community

Pharmacists in community pharmacies typically work with chemists serving the general public. In the UK, all community pharmacies must be directly supervised by a pharmacist. The following are the responsibilities of community pharmacists:

  • Selling and providing pharmaceuticals
  • Offering medication advice
  • Advising on symptoms and fundamental health issues
  • Advising patients on the correct use of medications
  • Making sure that several therapies are compatible

Pharmacy at a Hospital

Hospital Pharmacists directly interact with hospitals and are knowledgeable about medications and their applications. Among the responsibilities are:

  • Acquiring, producing, and distributing pharmaceuticals
  • Offering quality testing and pharmaceutical supply
  • Providing guidance on medication selection and dose

Pharmacists in the United Kingdom typically operate as part of a pharmacy team that includes a Pharmacy Technician or Pharmacy Assistant. The Pharmacy Technician’s responsibilities include the following:

  • Medication preparation and distribution
  • Inbound medications storage
  • Preparing sterile preparations
  • Pharmacy Technician jobs are most commonly found in hospital or community pharmacies.

infographic Immigrate to the UK as a pharmacist

How to Immigrate to the UK as an EU/EEA Pharmacist?

To practice as an EU/EEA pharmacist in the UK, you must become a member of 

  • The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
  • The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) in the United Kingdom

These are the Pharmacy regulating bodies in the United Kingdom. If you choose, you can register with both organizations.

Remember that practicing as a pharmacist in Northern Ireland without first being registered with the Pharmaceutical Society NI is unlawful. Similarly, practicing in the United Kingdom is illegal if you are not registered with the GPhC.

Registration Process for GP Applicants First Registered in the EEA

Suppose you are an EU/EEA national who is considered a pharmacist from an EEA country other than the UK. In that case, you must fill out the questionnaire in the EEA application pack and mail it to the GPhC together with the required evidence.

You will be needed to supply information about your qualifications and work experience and arrange for the documentation to be delivered directly to the GPhC by your home country’s applicable regulatory organization and responsible authority. The GPhC will send you the application form after completing the required information.

Registration Process for PSNI Applicants First Registered in the EEA

As a pharmacist who is qualified in an EU/EEA country, you must apply for registration as an EEA-qualified pharmacist with the PSNI before you can work in Northern Ireland.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland will acknowledge receipt of an application and make every effort to finish the procedure in 10 working days after receiving a completed application. Applicants may be asked to participate in an interview upon application.

Remember that applicants are not entitled to practice until they have received confirmation that they are registered.

Northern Ireland’s registration year runs from June 1st to May 31st. As a result, to keep your registration, you must re-register on June 1st of each year after your first registration.

How to Immigrate to the UK as a Non-EU/EEA Pharmacist?

Suppose you are considered a pharmacist outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or a non-EEA national with an EEA pharmacist certification. For example, to practice as a pharmacist in the United Kingdom. In that case, you must complete the following five (5) steps.

  1. Let the General Pharmaceutical Council determine your eligibility to participate in the OSPAP course (GPhC). (The GPhC is responsible for regulating pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy establishments in the United Kingdom.)
  2. Finish the OSPAP (Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme) course.
  3. Complete 52 weeks pre-registration training in England, Scotland, or Wales (foundation year).
  4. Take and pass the GPhC registration exam.
  5. Apply for and be a member of the GPHC register.

You must complete these procedures and apply for registration four years after beginning your OSPAP course.

Assessment Of Eligibility To Join The OSPAP Course By GPHC

The initial step in working as a pharmacist in the United Kingdom is to apply for the OSPAP course. The General Pharmaceutical Council will need to evaluate you. They will determine whether you are qualified to take the OSPAP course. They will examine your past qualifications, employment experience, English language proficiency, and fitness to practice.

You must fill out the Applying for Eligibility to Participate in an Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme form (OSPAP). The cost of determining your eligibility is £687 and is non-refundable, even if your application is denied.

You must read the instruction with the application form since it contains all the information you need and the exact form.

Eligibility Conditions

A pharmacy qualification gained overseas and registration or eligibility to register as a pharmacist in the country in which you qualified is required to enroll in the OSPAP course. For example, to be eligible for registration with the pharmacist council of Nigeria, you must either be a Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) graduate in Nigeria or have an international pharmacy qualification equivalent.

You can get an official Statement of Comparability from the UK National Recognition Information Center (UK NARIC) if you’re uncertain about your qualification’s compatibility with UK (MPharm) qualifications. A comparison is made between your foreign qualification and the UK’s (MPharm) qualification in this document.

To do this, you must:

  • Having obtained a pharmacy degree equal to those given in the United Kingdom
  • Be registered or qualified to register as a Pharmacist in your nation

Your application must include the following:

  • Evidence of your English proficiency
  • A generic questionnaire completed
  • Your authentic degree certificate
  • A photocopy of your passport that has been certified
  • Your curriculum vitae
  • Your portrait
  • A £631 application fee

Specific papers must also be provided directly from the entity that issued them. These are some examples:

  • A duplicate of your academic transcript
  • A letter verifying your registration and good standing in your qualifying nation
  • A minimum of two references who can speak to your personal and professional standing

Complete The Overseas Pharmacists’ Assessment Programme (OSPAP)

To be eligible for registration with the GPHC, pharmacists from outside the European Union can take the Overseas Pharmacists’ Assessment Programme (OSPAP).

It is a one-year program designed to provide certified international pharmacy graduates with the knowledge and training required for UK pharmacy practice and admission to pre-registration training.

Complete The Fifty-Two Weeks Pre-Registration Training (foundation year)

Training sites approved by the GPhC include the community, hospital, combination of hospitals and communities, and hospital and industry placements. During this placement, you will gain the skills, behaviors, and knowledge necessary to practice pharmacy in the UK to the required standards.

You will be guided and supervised by a GPhC-approved instructor who is also a practicing pharmacist in the UK. Over the course of 52 weeks, you must demonstrate to your tutor that you have met all of the performance requirements listed in the pre-registration booklet.

You must locate a GPhC-approved training location for your placement and notify the GPhC by applying for admission to the pre-registration year plan. The GPhC will then review your application to confirm that you are eligible to begin pre-registration training and that the training facility and instructor are appropriate to satisfy all performance requirements.

Wait and Pass The Gphc Registration Assessment

The GPhC registration assessment is the next stage in becoming a pharmacist in the UK. The GPhC assesses pre-registration trainee pharmacists to ensure they can utilize the knowledge obtained effectively and in a timely way to make professional decisions when practicing as a pharmacist. This comprises calculation examinations to demonstrate that trainees can do the calculations required to operate as a pharmacist in the UK.

It is a two-part test that must be taken and completed in one sitting and can only be taken three times. This test is administered in many places around the United Kingdom simultaneously. It is typically performed twice a year (June and September).

Join The Gphc Register

The OSPAP and pre-registration training has been completed successfully on your own, and the GPhC registration assessment has been passed. You can now apply to register with us as a pharmacist in the UK. Within four years of beginning your OSPAP course, you should complete this process via www.mygphc.org.

After passing the Societies registration exam and paying the £191 new member fee, you will be awarded the title of Member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. You will be authorized to operate as a Pharmacist in England, Scotland, or Wales.

Visa Options for Immigrant EU Pharmacists

Pharmacists who are from EU countries and residing in the UK by December 31st, 2020, can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay and work in the UK. Pharmacists who are from EU countries who have been or will arrive in the UK after January 1st, 2021, must apply for a visa.

Health and Care Worker visa

To be qualified for a Health and Care Worker visa, foreign pharmacists must fulfill all of the requirements listed below:

  • They must be a licensed pharmacist.
  • This visa must be applied to the employment offer.
  • Pharmacists must be employed by a Home Office-approved UK health and care sector company.
  • Pharmacists must be paid a higher minimum wage or the ‘going rate’ for the job they will be conducting.

In addition, pharmacists will require:

  • An employer who meets the requirements to serve as a sponsor
  • A COS (Certificate of Sponsorship) code
  • A suitable work offer and compensation

Pharmacists have the occupational code 2213.

Skilled Worker visa

Pharmacists must meet the following requirements to be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa:

  • Work for a Home Office-approved company in the UK
  • Have a ‘proof of sponsorship’ from their employer outlining the details of the position they have been given in the UK
  • Perform a job on the list of approved vocations
  • Be paid a minimum wage. 

Pharmacists have the occupational code 2213.

Visa Options for Immigrant Non-EEA Pharmacists

International students who want to change from a tier 4 student visa have various visa choices. Here are your options:

  • UK graduate visa
  • Visa for skilled workers
  • Tier 5 visa (government authorized trade)
  • Tier 5 visa (youth mobility plan)
  • Visa for British ancestors.

Before filing a visa application, students who are unclear about the visa to apply for should obtain assistance. The last portion of this page contains information about organizations that can give advice.

UK graduate visa

The government established the UK graduate visa in July 2021. This visa allows candidates to work in the United Kingdom for up to two years after graduation. Applicants are not required to have a sponsor, and there is no minimum wage requirement. You can apply for this visa even if you don’t have a job lined up. Applicants will require:

  • Graduating with a recognized degree from a UK university
  • The necessary level of English

OSPAP students should be aware that the UKVI has reaffirmed its position on the status of PGDip Pharm students. In addition, clause GR 5.2 has verified with several universities that PGDip Pharm students would be allowed to claim graduate status (f).

Skilled Worker Visa

The Tier 2 (General) work this visa has replaced visa. Applicants will be required to:

  • Work for a Home Office-approved company in the UK
  • Have a ‘proof of sponsorship’ from their employer outlining the details of the position they have been given in the UK
  • Perform a job on the list of approved vocations
  • Get paid a minimum wage in accordance with the work position

Before applying for this visa, applicants must have a verified employment offer. Applicants must also demonstrate the appropriate English level; nevertheless, all UK graduates are assumed to have met the English language standard.

The government website has further information on the Skilled Worker visa.

Tier 5 (Government Authorized Exchange) visa

International students can apply for a tier 5 government-approved exchange (GAE) visa. Students in the UK can submit this application. The following are the prerequisites for making the switch:

  • Applicants will require an overall government-approved sponsor.
  • Applicants must have graduated or be on their way to graduating from a UK university.
  • Applicants must have a training role that will last no longer than a year (training periods of twenty-four months are permitted, but registration training lasts twelve months, so an application for twenty-four months is not acceptable.)
  • The training post must be temporary (outside of the organization’s regular staffing requirements)
  • The training post must be connected to the degree pursued by the candidates.
  • The training position must be full-time and satisfy all standard UK employment requirements. For example, it must pay the UK minimum wage and statutory holiday and sickness pay.

Several organizations serve as the government-approved overarching sponsor. The government website has a complete list of confirmed tier 5 GAE sponsors.

Pharmacist Support is presently aware of the only organization that provides this sponsorship to trainees. AIESEC is the name of this organization. The AIESEC website has further details on this organization.

Trainees should be aware that significant sponsors do not provide placements. They are just the sponsor, and trainees must locate a placement that meets all qualifying conditions before asking for sponsorship.

International students intrigued by this option should request that their future employer complete the evaluation form to validate their qualification for a tier 5 visa. Students can also visit the AIESEC access tier 5 website for further information.

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa

Some students may be qualified for a tier 5 (youth mobility program) visa. This initiative is for young people from participating nations who want to work in the United Kingdom. There are particular standards to meet, visas are awarded based on quotas, and candidates must apply from their native country.

This plan is also open to British overseas residents, British overseas territories citizens, and British nationals (overseas) (there is no limit on these visas). In addition, citizens of the countries listed below are eligible for the scheme:

Japan

Australia

Monaco

New Zealand

Canada

Republic of Korea

Taiwan

Hong Kong

 

Please keep in mind that candidates from Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan must seek sponsorship (from their home country) to apply for a visa under the scheme.

You must also meet the following qualifying criteria:

  • Wish to live and work in the United Kingdom for up to two years
  • Are between the ages of 18 and 30
  • Having no children living with you
  • Having no financial responsibilities for children
  • Are not currently in the UK under the program or in the old category of ‘working holidaymaker.’
  • You must have at least £2,530 in savings.

See the government website for more information on tier 5 (young mobility plan).

UK ancestry visa

Foreign applicants can apply for a UK ancestry visa if they meet the following criteria:

  • Are you a member of the Commonwealth
  • Are you applying for a visa from outside the United Kingdom
  • They can demonstrate that one of their grandparents was born in the United Kingdom
  • Can work in the UK and intend to do so
  • Are at least 17 years old
  • Having enough money to maintain and shelter oneself and their dependents without relying on state funding

Please keep in mind that candidates who are currently in the UK on another visa cannot switch to a UK ancestry visa. It must be done from within their nation. 

Visit the government website for more information on the UK ancestry visa.

How Should You Go About Finding the Right UK Pharmacy Job for you?

Whether you are applying for a specific Pharmacy position or simply looking for anything that fits your abilities and expertise, a UK Allied Health recruiter will most likely be your first point of contact. Recruitment agencies are significantly active in the UK employment market; it is their business to discover qualified individuals for businesses while assisting applicants in developing and progressing their careers.

To assist you in reaching your full potential, WORKgateways runs a network of the most outstanding UK Allied Health recruiters.

Register with recruiting agencies up to two years before your planned arrival in the United Kingdom. Your recruitment specialist will then start looking for a suitable position, giving you a terrific head start in your working life in the UK. If your travel arrangements or arrival date change, please notify your recruiting consultant immediately.

What Universities Provide GPhC-Accredited OSPAP Courses?

  • Aston University
  • University of Brighton
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • Kingston University London
  • University of Sunderland

What are The OSPAP Course Structure and Content?

The course consists of a systematic academic evaluation of your qualifications, attendance at specified modules, and completion of examinations.

What is the Average Salary for a Pharmacist in the United Kingdom?

The average pharmacist pay is £46,693 per year or £23.95 per hour in the UK. Entry-level salaries begin at £40,691 per year, with most experienced professionals earning up to £57,585 per year.

Highest Paying Cities for Pharmacists in the United Kingdom

City

Salary (per year)

Derby 

£50,576 

London 

£50,462

Coventry 

£49,581

Cardiff 

£47,672

Birmingham 

£47,393

Leicester 

£47,156

Manchester 

£46,630

Norwich 

£46,601

Is It Worth Being a Pharmacist in the UK?

Yes. Community pharmacists are highly compensated, and there is always a demand for them in the UK. However, the job is quite monotonous. You’ll see the same patients (high blood pressure, epilepsy, excessive cholesterol) and feel like you’ve squandered all your efforts.

Let’s Sum Up

Despite the NHS employs over 1.2 million healthcare professionals and support employees, the UK still faces shortages in various sectors. To tackle this problem, the UK countries’ governments have changed their visa system to recruit more pharmacists and resolve the shortage. 

This essay discussed the available visas for foreign pharmacists, how to immigrate to the UK as a pharmacist, a pharmacist’s salary and conditions in the UK, etc.

If you have any experience or immigrated to the UK, please write about your journey to the UK in the comment section.

FAQ

What qualifications do you need to work in a pharmacy in the UK?

Although there are no fixed admission qualifications, most companies will demand adequate reading, numeracy, and information technology abilities. They may require GCSEs or an equivalent qualification, as well as related job experience. Even if it is not required, previous experience in a customer service job would be advantageous.

How can I become a member of the GPhC?

  1. Determine the supporting papers you will need to present and obtain legally certified copies.
  2. Create a user account on the myGPhC online system, which may be found at www.mygphc.org.
  3. Fill out and submit an online application, including attaching scanned versions of supporting papers.

Can Pakistani pharmacists work in the UK?

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) oversees the registration of pharmacists in the UK (GPhC).

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