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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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a pharmacist consulting with patientOctober 23 2017

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association has warned that the pharmacy regulator may not be doing its utmost to protect public safety.

In its response to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s consultation on standards for pharmacy premises, the PDA has questioned how seriously the GPhC will enforce the application of the proposed new standards.

The consultation, which closed on October 11, asked for views on standards around pharmacy owners “creating suitable working environments which enable pharmacy staff to operate safely and effectively.” The GPhC also intends to stop setting training requirements and assessing and approving training courses for dispensing and medicines counter assistants, and instead provide guidance for employers on what the training should include.

Publishing its response to the consultation, the PDA has said it is “concerned that this is another misstep by the GPhC in its role protecting the public. The GPhC has not only failed to ensure its expectations are enforceable, but has sent a message that it seemingly regards the matters covered in the guidance – which include expectations in relation to staffing levels, protected time for training and raising concerns – as being of insufficient importance to do so.”

The response document adds: “Considering that the guidance is unenforceable, the absence of any attempt by the GPhC to set enforceable standards for registered pharmacies and the approach taken by some pharmacy employers to the conditions in their pharmacies, some may wonder whether the GPhC does have any hope that it will be followed.”

The PDA response also flags up concerns about actions not taken by the GPhC since it was established in 2010 to regulate pharmacy in Great Britain. Citing information which it obtained under Freedom of Information Act requests, the PDA claims that the GPhC has never:

  • fulfilled its legal obligation to set Standards for Registered Pharmacies in rules;
  • issued an improvement notice to a pharmacy owner;
  • brought a fitness to practise case against a registrant for a failure to comply with the Standards for Registered Pharmacies;
  • disqualified, removed, or sought to disqualify or remove, a pharmacy premises from the register.

The GPhC’s consultation document states that it will publish a report summarising feedback to the consultation. In addition, “the GPhC’s governing council will consider the responses to the consultation after it closes in October and will then aim to agree the new guidance and framework by the end of 2017.”

Links:
PDA announcement        
PDA response to GPhC consultation        
GPhC ‘Consultation on guidance to ensure a safe and effective pharmacy team’   

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