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FtP delays: PSA slams PSNI over failure to meet three regulatory standards

The regulator’s regulator has slammed the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for “registration errors”, taking “too long” to complete fitness-to-practise (FtP) cases and an “inability” to provide “accurate information”. 

The Northern Irish pharmacy regulator only met 15 out of the 18 standards of “good regulation”, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) found in its 2022/23 performance review of the PSNI, published yesterday (March 26).

The “PSNI’s inability to provide timely and accurate information” to the regulator’s regulator led it to fail one of the standards, the report said.

“These issues raise serious questions about the confidence we…have in the PSNI’s reporting,” it added.

The PSNI failed a second standard for making “a number of registration errors on [its] register during the review period”, according to the report.

It said that the body “did not have robust processes and controls in place…to ensure the accuracy of the register” and “has not yet taken action to reduce the risk of similar errors occurring in the future”.

And the PSNI did not meet a third standard “because it is taking too long to deal with fitness-to-practise (FtP) cases and the number of open older cases has increased”.

The PSA said that “in light of its small caseload” of FtPs, “the PSNI should be able to manage delays…more effectively”.

It added that while it welcomed the PSNI’s “openness and transparency” in bringing the issues to its attention and that the regulator said it had “started work to resolve these problems”, it had “not yet seen evidence of improvement at this stage”.


PSNI “dedicated to upholding good regulation”


“I welcome this monitoring report from the PSA”, PSNI chief executive Michaela McAleer said.

The report “concluded that we met the majority of standards set by them, particularly around guidance, standards, education and training”, she added.

Commenting on the standards that “were not met on this occasion”, McAleer said that the PSNI is “confident” that “systemic modifications [it has] made to [its] processes should significantly reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence”.

“Many of these issues were identified by the PSNI itself and reported to the PSA, in keeping with our commitments around openness and transparency,” she added. 

She said that the body is “grateful for the PSA’s continued support and advice” and “remains dedicated to upholding good regulation, proactively identifying issues, and swiftly and effectively addressing them when they occur”.

Meanwhile, in September, the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) council papers revealed that open FtP cases had reached their “highest ever” level.

And the same month, the PSA 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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