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GPhC has plan of action to tackle workplace pressures

GPhC's Duncan Rudkin: Will consider complex and challenging issues in depth

Regulator has responded to media coverage of a PDA survey on pressures on pharmacists

The regulator said it had set outs its "programme of work" on pressure after reading recent coverage in the Guardian and the pharmacy media of a Pharmacists’ Defence Association survey.

The survey revealed that 55% of just under 2,000 employee and locum pharmacists at the multiples feel commercial incentives or targets compromise patient safety or professional judgement "around half" of the time or more.

It made international headlines in April after the Guardian used it as part of its allegations that some Boots managers had instructed staff to carry out unnecessary medicines use reviews (MURs).

Address the issues raised

In an article in the GPhC e-bulletin Regulate, published today (June 15), the regulator described how it will host an event in October to “bring people together from inside and outside pharmacy, to consider what role different organisations and individuals can play to address the issues raised”.

The GPhC will also meet with a range of stakeholders, including pharmacy owners, to hear from them how they “support their staff to do the right thing in the first place”.

Not focused on one company

However, the regulator stressed that it will not focus on any one company.

“The PDA survey results themselves – and the reactions to them – have indicated that workplace pressures are not an issue for just one company, but a wider issue for the sector to which everyone within pharmacy needs to consider and respond,” it said.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said: "We want to create an opportunity for all of us – regulators, the NHS, companies, professionals and representative bodies, to consider these complex and challenging issues in depth."

Read Boots' response to the GPhC's plans here.

How do you think the GPhC should deal with workplace pressures?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

"The GPHC will meet with stakeholders and owners to hear from them "how they support their staff to do the right thing in the first place"...This was never about the "right thing" being done, it was about Pharmacists being pushed to conduct unneccessary MURS solely for profit...Which should have been investigated properly by the GPHC...I really dont know what a meeting will achieve unless employee and locum pharmacists are present. They make up the bulk of the Pharmacy workforce and should be prioritised. Pharmacists should have a right to report on unethical workplace pressures to their regulator and the regulator do something about it....Which unfortunately doesnt happen unless a major tabloid takes the story...Its ridiculous

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I really appreciate all the supportive comments from the contractors who so actively contribute to this site. With such support we can now understand why they request unity, (albeit exclusively with regards to protection of net profit).

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

I might be a contractor, have been for the last two years, but I fully support your comments and justified stance against the multiples putting pressure on pharmacists and locums.  Its not that long ago that I was in the same position.  Furthermore as an independent group of three shops we managed to complete 250 MURs last year that we believed benifitted our patients.  We even pay £25 an hour to our locums and try to treat them with the respect we believe they deserve.  I cannot understand why larger groups are unable to do the same.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Mr Edwards, thank you for your comments, they are much appreciated. You have highlighted the central issue I have as a community pharmacist - the failure to acknowledge my right to independence and autonomy and my right to be treated with respect. 

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Refreshing to hear. You're probably in the minority.

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Selective Unity. 

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

So, Big Dunc and his pistoleros at the General Prosecuting Council are going to do something about work place challenges? I think the most enduring phenomena about the Duncan Rudkin regime is their complete lack of understanding of what patient safety is and their role in protecting and ensuring this safety. They also don't understand the role of The contractor in this whole equation. Until they start to regulate the Contractor and enforce these regulations, everything will remain all talk. Pharmacists report issues on the shop floor to the GPHC daily and wherever the Contactor is the main issue the GPHC ignores them outright. We work in environments that are not fit to dispense medicines, we work with staff not fit to serve patients and at times we are managed by people not fit to work in a Pharmacy. Duncan Ruskin knows this and ignores this , yet now he is responding to a Newspaper. This man loves playing to the gallery and the media. But you don't protect patients this way. He employs people called inspectors?. What exactly to these people do? How do they contribute to patient safety? Or to the regulation of premises. These I thought were the people who should be active sources of information not the shop floor gossip which results in most fitness to practice cases. I worked in a branch where an inspector had just given a satisfactory result and I was shocked. The staff were not trained and the consultation room is not fit for purpose. A customer complained when the door opened when she was partly undressed. They are a waste of resources just like this indaba that they want to hold. We know the problems, they know the problems but Duncan Rudkin will not act because it means crossing swords with Contractors. On the evidence, Duncan is out of his depth and this is a fact

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

You are spot on Francis. The other point to note is that, any lack of action on the culprit corporates is clearest evidence that the R.P. regulations are a complete farce, and not fit for purpose.This is not surprising, as the R.P.S  and corporates were involved in the "R.P." framework, ignoring the interests of the General workforce in the community sector.

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Get in touch with a national newspaper, the Guardian perhaps?

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Francis, that is an excellent summary of what is going on .......and was going on. I reported to the GPhC in 2012, and am still waiting for the report that I needed to add to. The GPhC DO NOT have the clout to go after the problem, so they target small fry - the pharmacists. Patients are just collateral spectators. Appalling state of affairs.

N A, Non healthcare professional

Utterly appalling - a complete failure to protect the public.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

The GPHC do not have the best interests of pharmacists at heart. They are just a bunch of frightened bottom inspectors only interested in their pensions.

R A, Community pharmacist

Funny in many fitness to practice cases pharmacists have cited the issues highlighted in the Guardian article as the driving factor for compromising their fitness to practice but the GPhC did little to address the issues for years.

However now it has been plublished by a national newspaper GPhC has suddenly initiated an action plan to tackle the problem because of the article? So did the GPhC think the pharmacists who have previously cited the issues in their fitness to practice case were making it up?  Unbelievable really need to get out of this profession!

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Well, people with power do what they can get away with. Of course, they could have acted ten years ago, but to do so would have been to act on principle. Even when such people are exposed, the response is to deny everything and admit nothing. All we will see are some toothless recommendations and in time this will al be forgotten. 

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

To say that I'm furious would be putting it mildly - this needs to be highlighted to the Guardian editor. A regulatory body that does not have the guts to go after a company that has so much evidence stacked against it and yet more than happy to strike off pharmacists who are put under pressure by this same company. In fact, another petition to stop paying their fees (only done to stay on register as a pharmacist, but what's the point if the profession is not even being safeguarded by it's own?!). Absolutely disgusted by this response - an action plan. Really?! That's the best they can do? So why was this not an option for the many pharmacists who have been struck off working for a company? Why were they not given time to reflect and produce and action plan? It seesm to be one rule for big companies and a different rule for pharmacists - asahmaed to be a pharmacist under the banner of GPhC today. 

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

So, just a bigger bucket of whitewash

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

Key line to notice.... "spurred to action by the guardian article"..... Not by multiple and numerous previous complaints..... Nor by a trend of pharmacists being struck of for MUR falsification and claims of work place pressures?

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

It is regrettable. Whistle blowing to the Media is clearly the only way of getting attention and action.


Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Moral of the story: If you have a problem seek out a national newspaper first.

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

Mr Duncan Rudkin, do you mind not looking at me like that all the time, it's really disturbing. You just want to stare at me, it's uncomfortable.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I think we should setup a gofundme page so we can take the regulator to court? what do you guys think?  

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Reduced workload = reduced net profit = not going to happen 

Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

It will if you add   ....  = reduced wages  !

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Troll ! As defined by PM, Hussain and others...

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

It is easy to be sceptical, but I really support the PDA and other unions representing pharmacy work force to work with GPHC and other stakeholders to ensure representation, fairness and anti-discriminatory practice in the work place. It is absolutely awful if pharmacy staff feel bullied, marginalised or discriminated against and that's not good for patients, pharmacy professionals and anyone for that matter. Let's hope things progress positively.

Mr Pharmacist!, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The GPHC has a mandate to investigate....this is just a cop out.  Pharmacists = Slaves = owned by corporates = blessed by regulators.  Shame on this sham of a structure.  Why dont we all just start flaunting stupid law and ethics anyway, if corporates can get away with it, we should all start not giving a s££$.  Infact this is just a by product of a lunatic mission by liberals who have hijacked our country to impose they control on everything and everyone.  This whole profession stinks and is a farce.  It pays less than other trades, its over regulated, its biased towards shady operators.  It plain stinks.

Mr Pharmacist!, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Guardian highlights serious concerns that affect PATIENT SAFETY & border on FRAUD.  GPHC does nothing.  What does this tell those of us who are regulated by tells them that the GPhC is selective in who it regulates.  It is blind sighted and tunnel visioned.  They have never taken a broad view on why problems happen, yet they are quick to punish isolated events.  They dont care about the causes or reasons why pharmacists may fall foul of standards, but they are quick to punish individual pharmacists.  Therefore, first thing tommorow, I'm going to over work myself, god help me if i make a mistake and do stupid MUR's that will risk patient safety, because this is the message the regulator is sending out.  It's all OK! sure it is

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

The fact is that the likes of Boots are now simply too big and powerful. They have the resources and influence that would more than outmatch the GPhC.


Jagdeep Johal, Community pharmacist

One possible reason is because a corporation has a lot of money and lawyers backing them. An individual doesn't, so they pick the easiest target!!

Even the GPhC has targets!!!

Crazy Chemist, Community pharmacist

Quite simple really, there should be a minium work force depending on items dispensed. One for standard hrs, one for 100hr pharmacies. The pharmacist should never work alone (which happens a lot in supermarket pharmacies).


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