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GPhC: Almost all whistleblowing cases last year linked to community pharmacy

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) received 21 disclosures from whistleblowers over the last financial year, of which 20 concerned community pharmacy, C+D has learned. 

Last month (September 27), the GPhC released its annual whistleblowing report for April 1 2022 to March 31 2023.

The report – which the regulator is legally required to publish – revealed that the GPhC took “regulatory action” on 12 of the 21 disclosures made to it by whistleblowers.

Of the 21 disclosures brought to the pharmacy regulator, five remain under review, three were referred “to an alternative body” but no further action was taken and just one case was closed with no action, according to the report.

The GPhC also concluded three disclosures raised during the previous reporting period with “no further action”, it said. 

The negotiator told C+D yesterday (October 9) that of the 21 disclosures it received, 20 cases concerned community pharmacy and one was about an online pharmacy.

However, the nature of the concerns raised remains unclear.

 

What is GPhC “regulatory action”?

 

The report said that “action” taken on concerns raised by whistleblowers included “a full investigation through established fitness-to-practise (FtP) processes”.

If the regulator judges that “follow-up action” is required, this will be taken “through [its] inspection network”, it added.

It said that an initial investigation can result in “any available outcome” throughout the FtP process, while any “follow-up action” can include “guidance, a follow-up visit or an unexpected inspection”.

The GPhC concluded 12 cases by “sharing information with inspection colleagues for follow-up action”, it added.

 

How does the GPhC compare with other regulators?

 

The report also revealed how the GPhC measures up to other regulators, as eight other healthcare regulators contributed whistleblowing case figures.

For example, the General Medical Council (GMC) took regulatory action on 47 disclosures out of the 48 it received and the General Dental Council (GDC) acted on 60 out of 82.

Other regulatory bodies, however, acted on far fewer disclosures – with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) taking regulatory action on one out of seven received.

Meanwhile, both the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) and Social Work England didn’t take any action on disclosures, while the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) received no disclosures at all during the reporting period.

 

Learning from disclosures

 

The GPhC said that concerns raised with inspectors “are widely shared to ensure learning across the organisation”.

Issues raised “inform” the regulator's work on “understanding the experiences of pharmacy professionals in the working environment”, it added.

It also stressed that “none of the disclosures had an impact on [its] ability to perform [its] regulatory functions and meet [its] objectives”.

Meanwhile, the regulators’ regulator last month said it had written to the health secretary under its "escalation policy" after a review found that the GPhC had failed to meet FtP timeliness standards for the fifth year running.

 

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