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Umesh Modi is a chartered accountant, and Pamini Jatheeskumar is a chartered certified accountant at Silver Levene...
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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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pharmacistMay 18 2016

NHS England should go ahead with its proposals to introduce guidance, rather than new prescriptive mechanisms, on how primary care employees can raise concerns. It needs to avoid introducing “excessive and disproportionate bureaucracy” in its proposals for a whistleblowing system for primary care, Pharmacy Voice has said.

The organisation representing pharmacy owner associations has welcomed the general thrust of NHS England’s draft proposals in its ‘Freedom to speak up in Primary Care’ consultation, published in April. This noted, that with the exception of community pharmacy, NHS primary care providers do not have to have a formal process for handling complaints from staff.

Pharmacy Voice’s response to the consultation includes the view that “pharmacy contractors will already have whistleblowing policies in place as part of their compliance with the terms of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework.”

The consultation document noted that all NHS primary care providers will be expected to review and update their local policies and procedures by March 2017 to align with this new policy. “NHS England will monitor implementation progress using established assurance mechanisms such as the annual GP Practice electronic declaration and the Community Pharmacy Assurance Framework to support this,” it said.

Pharmacy Voice has described this as a reasonable timeframe, “so long as the draft guidance is finalised and published as soon as possible to enable contractors sufficient time to review their local processes to align with the new policy.”

Pharmacy Voice agrees that “no one model can be universally applied to establish a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian,” and has welcomed the proposed range of options NHS England has put forward to support this function in primary care. Among its proposals is that superintendent pharmacists could act as a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian within a pharmacy business, in addition to employees being able to raise concerns with regulatory bodies, including the General Pharmaceutical Council, or directly with NHS England.

In addition: “For single-pharmacist/owner-operated contractors, alternative options that are independent of the line management chain could also include another senior registered pharmacy professional within the team (eg a regular second pharmacist) or a nominated member of the Local Pharmaceutical Committee.”

However, whichever options are adopted, “Freedom to Speak Up Guardians must be provided with training and guidance so that they are able to offer appropriate support to staff raising concerns.”
In addition, training and support resources need to be made available before the March 2017 deadline so that pharmacy contractors have sufficient time to implement any new policies and procedures, said Pharmacy Voice.

Links:

Pharmacy Voice announcement

Pharmacy Voice response

NHS England Whistleblowing

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