Chemist + Druggist is part of Pharma Intelligence UK Limited

This is operated by Pharma Intelligence UK Limited, a company registered in England and Wales with company number 13787459 whose registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. The Pharma Intelligence group is owned by Caerus Topco S.à r.l. and all copyright resides with the group.

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use. Please do not redistribute without permission.

Printed By


PDA slams regulator and CPhO for normalising ‘unsafe practices’

The pharmacy union has criticised a joint letter issued by the regulator and NHS chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO), saying that their approach may “endanger” the wellbeing of pharmacists.  

The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said over the weekend (January 6) that “it is not enough for those in positions of authority to just highlight workforce pressures”.

The comment came in response to a joint letter written by England’s CPhO David Webb and General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) chief executive Duncan Rudkin for “pharmacy professionals” in England last week (January 2).

The letter warned of “further challenges over the coming weeks and months…exacerbated by staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities, as well as the ongoing industrial action”.

But the pharmacy union has now said that the letter “has raised questions among pharmacists”.

It added that “workforce pressure is consistently raised by the PDA” and that the CPhO and GPhC’s “approach could lead to normalisation of unsafe practices and continues to endanger the individual’s wellbeing”.

The GPhC told C+D yesterday (January 8) that it knows “that everyone working in pharmacy across all of Great Britain continues to experience high and sustained demands and pressures, and exceptional challenges”.

C+D also approached NHSE for comment.




The PDA also criticised the letter for being “unclear” about its “intended audience” as “it is addressed to ‘colleagues’ and mentions ‘everyone working in pharmacies’”.

“It is often non-registrant managers that place undue pressure on pharmacists to work in unsafe conditions or with inadequate resources”, it said.

“However, such individuals are outside the reach of healthcare regulation”, the union added. 


GPhC barristers “will criticise pharmacists”


The PDA also raised concerns about how Fitness to Practise (FtP) cases involving workforce pressures are handled. 

The regulator and CPhO said that they understood that those working in pharmacies “may be worried that concerns could be raised with the regulator about [their] practice”.

The letter said it wanted to “reassure” those worried “that in the unlikely event that [they] are referred to the regulator, [it] will consider the context [they] were working in at the time”.

It added that the GPhC’s standards “are designed to be adaptable” and should support pharmacy staff “in making what may sometimes be difficult decisions”.

However, the PDA said that this was not always the case in “its extensive experience of FtP hearings”.

Responding to these claims, the GPhC stressed that “if there is a referral to the regulator”, context including “the environment in which [pharmacy staff] were working and all relevant resources, guidelines or protocols will be considered”.


Staffing crisis 


In September, the regulator issued a warning to a locum responsible pharmacist after a patient died when he dispensed the wrong strength of oxycodone during a staffing crunch.

The GPhC said that Paresh Gordhanbhai Patel “made an error in his professional judgement in agreeing to work to help out in a staffing crisis”.

It said that Mr Patel, who admitted that he was “stressed and overtired”, had been working an “excessive” number of hours when he made the dispensing error. 

Meanwhile, a Westminster Hall debate saw MP’s voice concern about staffing shortfalls in community pharmacies in the same month, with health and social care committee (HSCC) chair Steve Brine noting that pharmacies were “struggling” to retain staff.

Related Content


Pharmacy Manager

Apply Now
Latest News & Analysis
See All



Ask The Analyst

Please Note: You can also Click below Link for Ask the Analyst
Ask The Analyst

Thank you for submitting your question. We will respond to you within 2 business days. my@email.address.

All fields are required.

Please make sure all fields are completed.

Please make sure you have filled out all fields

Please make sure you have filled out all fields

Please enter a valid e-mail address

Please enter a valid Phone Number

Ask your question to our analysts