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Initiate FtP processes only if ‘absolutely necessary’, GPhC suggests

FtP processes will only be initiated when “absolutely necessary”, the GPhC has suggested under proposed changes to an “often adversarial, cumbersome and inefficient” model.

Some concerns do not need to develop into an entire fitness-to-practise (FtP) process, for example when they do not pose an “ongoing risk” or “where the risk to the public has already been removed”, the regulator said.

The current FtP model is “too often cumbersome, lengthy and inefficient”, with a process that can be “adversarial” and have a negative impact on those involved, the regulator added in a draft fitness to practise strategy published with its latest council papers ahead of its meeting yesterday (July 9).

Under the new approach proposed, the GPhC will “only use formal FtP processes when it is absolutely necessary and seek early solutions and remediation where appropriate”.

The changes would also allow pharmacy professionals to “address concerns and return to practice sooner in appropriate circumstances”. In cases where there is not deemed to be a risk to the public, a “restorative approach” could be adopted, allowing the registrant to go back to work or continue working, “whenever such an approach can be managed safely”.

New approach for health and performance concerns

Concerns that relate to health and performance could be resolved “outside a formal investigation where appropriate”, the GPhC said.

Depending on circumstances, pharmacy professionals could be asked to complete a “reflective piece specifically related to the nature of the concern”, which could be submitted along with their revalidation or separately.

As part of this, they may be asked to tell the GPhC “how they intend to address some performance deficiencies or how they have learnt from a particular matter”.

Person-centred approach

The proposed FtP strategy will take a person-centred approach, the GPhC said, adding that this will “help us recognise that everyone is an individual with differing needs”.

As part of this, the GPhC set out its “service promises”, which include communicating with registrants “clearly” and adjusting its communication to their needs.

More enquiries will be made at triage – when the concern is received – under the proposed FtP strategy, which should help the regulator to investigate “the right concerns” and ensure that concerns “that can be resolved through alternative means are dealt with quicker”.

If the GPhC council agrees on the strategy, a 12-week consultation will be launched later this summer.

The GPhC said that its work on the draft FtP strategy was influenced by, among other elements, including “stakeholder engagement that took place in the summer of 2019” and a review into how other regulators have changed their processes.

Earlier this year, the Professional Standards Authority published a review of the GPhC in which the watchdog raised concerns about the regulator’s FtP processes.

What do you make of the GPhC's draft fitness to practice strategy?

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