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Umesh Modi is a chartered accountant, and Pamini Jatheeskumar is a chartered certified accountant at Silver Levene...
  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
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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fitness to practise gavel legalJuly 8 2015

The pharmacy regulator received 1,597 complaints about pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in 2014-15, an increase of 53.8% on the previous year.

More than a thousand of these fitness to practise complaints (1,067) were made by members of the public. This was a 66% increase on the number of complaints made by the public the previous year

The sources of other complaints comprised 45 cases reported by General Pharmaceutical Council inspectors, 49 complaints made by employers, 51 complaints came from other health professionals, 92 cases were self-referrals, and 60 cases were reported by the police and other enforcement organisations. The remaining 233 cases were either reported anonymously or the person reporting did not choose a category.

In terms of outcome, the GPhC dealt with 1,108 cases, of which no further action was taken in 287 cases (25.9%). Sanctions included 40 removals, 49 suspensions, 87 warnings from the investigation committee, and 8 warnings from the fitness to practise committee. Letters of advice were issued in 318 cases, while conditions and undertakings were the outcome in 30 cases.

The figures come in the GPhC’s Annual Report for 2014-15 and relates to registration in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has its own pharmacy regulatory body.

The GPhC report shows that there was an increase in registrants as follows:

 

Number as at

March 31 2014

Number as at

March 31 2015

% increase
Pharmacists 48,815 50,292 3.0%
Pharmacy Technicians 22,406 22,593 0.8%
Pharmacy premises 14,306 14,367 0.4%

Commenting on the level of complaints, the GPhC says: “There has been a significant increase of 54% in the number of concerns raised with us. Other healthcare regulators are seeing this upward trend too.

“We have introduced a range of improvements to make sure we are dealing with concerns thoroughly and quickly, despite the significant increase in numbers. This includes having more staff work on fitness to practise concerns, and improving the online form on our website to make it easier for people to report a concern. We received 1,432 concerns through the website during 2014-15.”

The GPhC has also announced it is consulting on new guidance for the investigating committee. This committee consider whether complaints made a pharmacist or pharmacy technician should be referred to the fitness to practice committee for a full investigation.

The draft guidance ‘Good decision making: investigating committee meetings and outcomes’ explains the role of the investigating committee and how it decides whether a case should be considered by the fitness to practise committee.

GPHC chief executive Duncan Rudkin commented: “The investigating committee is a vital decision making body at an important point in the fitness to practise process. We want to ensure that members of the investigating committee continue to be supported by up to date guidance which clearly sets out the decision-making framework and the outcomes they can decide on.”

“Legally the committee must sit in private and so it is essential that the final guidance sets out how members must make their decisions, to provide transparency about the process and give people confidence that the decisions taken are consistent, fair and proportionate.”

The consultation runs until September 11

Links:

GPhC announcement   

GPhC Annual Report 2014-15     

GPhC consultation on investigating committee guidance              

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