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Coronavirus: GPhC stops all routine inspections

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has announced it is stopping all routine inspections from today.

The regulator will also no longer produce inspection reports, it announced in an update to pharmacy teams this afternoon (March 17).

GPhC CEO Duncan Rudkin said the organisation is aware of the “significant challenges” pharmacies are facing “as a result of COVID-19”. He added the GPhC’s priority is to support contractors “to give people safe and effective care”.

Earlier last week, the GPhC told C+D suspending inspections was a “potential option”, depending on how the virus developed in the future.

“Supportive phase”

The GPhC will continue to carry out its role of regulator but it will move to a “supportive phase”, Mr Rudkin said.

As part of this, GPhC inspectors will discuss “plans and arrangements for the pandemic” with pharmacy staff over the phone or in person. They will also answer “queries and provide support to pharmacy owners, pharmacy professionals and teams”.

“The inspectors will also be identifying examples of how you are meeting some of these challenges, so that others can learn quickly from your approaches,” Mr Rudkin said.

Temporary registration

The GPhC will begin contacting those eligible to be temporarily added to the GPhC register later this week and will share more information with employers planning to hire someone on the temporary register, Mr Rudkin said.

Last week, the GPhC said that nearly 6,000 pharmacy professionals could be granted temporary registration if the state of emergency is declared.

Pharmacy professionals who had voluntarily removed themselves from the GPhC register or were removed for not having renewed their registration in the last three years will be the first able to be re-added to the register, the regulator clarified today.

Flexible standards

The GPhC today reiterated that its regulatory standards are “flexible” and that it recognises that “pharmacy professionals and teams may need to depart from established procedures in order to care for patients and people using health and social care services” during these challenging times.

As C+D previously reported, the GPhC will take coronavirus into account in fitness to practise cases if it receives concerns related to professionals on its register where the virus is a factor.

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