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Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent advisory body to the UK government. As
readers may have read on the Pharmalife website, the MAC has recommended that
pharmacists and pre-registration trainee pharmacists (PRTP) be removed from the
Shortage Occupation List; the presence of pharmacists on the list allowed non-EEA (European Economic Area) applicants to apply for posts in the UK. In essence, the MAC now believe that supply of pharmacists
is outstripping demand and if the government go ahead with the proposal,
non-EEA candidates may be liable to reapply for any
positions that they currently have an offer for.
One thing that cannot be disputed is the fact that supply exceeded demand a long time ago. Every year, more home students find themselves without a pre-reg position and pharmacists without a job. I know of pharmacists that commute tens of miles to get to their workplace. The days of commuting being a relatively easy task without the extending snakes of cars down Britain's motorways, however, have long gone, making commuting more of a chore than the actual job in some cases. One pharmacist friend of mine, who has been locuming since he qualified just over a year ago, doesn't even own a car; instead, he commutes by bus all over Manchester. As he is originally from Northern Ireland, when I asked why he didn't move back he responded that it's probably harder to get a job there with the annual outpouring of 120+ Queen's graduates into a smaller market (not to mention the recent introduction of pharmacy into the University of Ulster).
At the same time, because the move comes in the middle of the 2012-2013 pre-reg recruitment process a non-EEA applicant's job offer will not be guaranteed to stand if the government proceeds to act on the MAC's advice, even if the offer has been accepted. A Canadian comrade of mine is currently in this very situation, having obtained and accepted an offer for a joint industry and hospital position (which in itself is no mean feat).
I am still unsure as to which stance I take however I'm currently leaning more towards international students' side. Yanking someone's job offer from them after they'd worked hard to achieve it cannot be ethical, especially as we students have had it constantly drilled into us that we cannot accept a job offer only to withdraw after receiving another offer; many hospital pre-reg applicants (including me) found themselves in this harrowing position and one cannot imagine the stress it heaps on.
In summary, I believe that a) these changes should be brought in and b) they should take effect from 2012 so that applicants are aware of it before they apply in order to make other arrangements if necessary.