GPhC: New religious guidance is not just about denying EHC

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The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is consulting on updating its standards to guide pharmacy professionals through the "range of situations" that may conflict with their religious and personal values.

"It's not just [when providing] emergency hormonal contraception" that pharmacists can encounter conflicts with their own values, chief executive Duncan Rudkin said in an exclusive interview with C+D on Tuesday (January 24).

The GPhC is proposing to change the wording in its standards on "religion, personal values and beliefs" – due to come into effect this year – after feedback that its current guidance gives "mixed messages", Mr Rudkin said.

In its proposed updated guidance, the regulator suggests that referring a patient to another health service provider may no longer "be the right option" if a pharmacist is faced with a situation that conflicts with their personal beliefs.

The document lists "a range of situations" where this could occur, including substance misuse services, hormonal treatments, and fertility and contraception services.

To reflect the regulator's drive for "person-centred professionalism" in the sector, it is planning to amend the wording in its standards.

Rather than state that patients receive "effective care" when pharmacy professionals:"Tell relevant health professionals, employers or others if their own values or beliefs prevent them from providing care, and refer people to other providers"...

...the new guidance will state that pharmacists should: "Take responsibility for ensuring that person-centred care is not compromised because of personal values and beliefs."

Watch the video interview with Mr Rudkin to find out more.

The consultation is open until March 7. Read the full document and complete the questionnaire here.

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