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GPhC asks pharmacy bodies to show how they're tackling staffing issues

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Duncan Rudkin: We want to understand any challenges pharmacies are facing

The regulator has asked pharmacy bodies to explain what steps they are taking to address the continuing issue of inadequate staffing levels.

The General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) premises standard of having “enough staff, suitably qualified and skilled, for the safe and effective provision of pharmacy services” has for the second quarter in a row been one of the most common areas failed in pharmacy inspections, it said in a statement yesterday (September 6).

However, the numbers of pharmacies failing to meet this standard “remain relatively small”, making up “under 3%” of those inspected between January and June, the GPhC stressed.

Evidence collected in “recent months” of continued staffing level concerns prompted GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin to seek feedback from pharmacy bodies regarding “any challenges that pharmacies are facing in relation to staffing”.

In a letter to the Company Chemists’ Association – which represents the UK’s largest multiples – the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, the National Pharmacy Association, Community Pharmacy Scotland and Community Pharmacy Wales, sent yesterday and seen by C+D, Mr Rudkin asked the bodies to share what steps its members are taking to meet its standards on staffing, within the next six weeks.

He also asked the organisations to share how they are supporting their members to do this.

The GPhC published guidance on ensuring a safe and effective pharmacy team in June, which includes what pharmacy owners are expected to do in relation to safe staffing.

“This area will continue to be a key area of focus for our inspections and other regulatory activities,” Mr Rudkin said in his letter.  

Read Mr Rudkin's letter to the pharmacy bodies in full here.

Does your pharmacy have adequate staffing levels?

R T, Manager

" However, the numbers of pharmacies failing to meet this standard “remain relatively small”, making up “under 3%” of those inspected between January and June, the GPhC stressed. "

where the hell did you get that info from? NHSBSA website??! we as pharmacists have no choice but to put inflated hours on there. otherwise im out of a job.


Can i say guys, im so glad to be out of community pharmacy. the future is so corrupt. i feel like community pharmacy, gphc, RPS, npa even pda are like a bunch of corrupt nations from the developing world. Id expect this kind of attitude and mentality from those countries. 

for the first time in my life i cant wait to start work on monday. because im no longer in community pharmacy woo!

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

So to echo everyone here, the GPHC is asking these bodies about steps they are taking to address staffing issues. Firstly its an outright lie that 3% of Premises failed. I will put this figure to around 80% if inspections were correctly done.

Why is it that the GPHC is not punitive towards Employers. If this was a Pharmacist, especially someone like me, I would have been struck off and deported.

They are the ones who set and regulate every aspect of this profession, yet they neglect to carry out their mandate. This softly softly approach will cost us our reputation when years from now we are found to have been hiding behind false pretences. Think about all these historical cases coming out now. I forecast a big one coming from Pharmacy with this level of incompetence.

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

The determinaton of adequate staffing levels is subjective in absence of any criteria for assesing the same. If there is one, for the sake of transparency the GPHC should publish it in their guidelines, so that registrants working in a pharmacy can determine whether the pharmacy they are working is reasonably safe.

Unlik,e in  the Bawa Garba case where the registration of the "Struck off " doctor was restored, this is amlost unthinkable or has ever happened with any GPHC determinations, where understaffing and pressure of work is the cause of Manslaughter as was with B-G case. - Recall the Elizabeth Lee case - i believe she was forced to resign - otherwise get struck off. GPHC is definately biased against individual pharmacist, and has a cosy relationship with the "Large Multiple" contractors, who they refer to as stakeholders and hold regular meetings with them.  


R A, Community pharmacist

The reason why RPSGB ceased censoring pharmacists because there was a conflict of interest. If GPhC is saying that they do not have the power to regulate the operators/owners of the pharmacy premise this indicates that the GPhC is not fit for purpose to protect the public. Either the GPhC needs to petition to have its power/remit increased. Or the GPhC should be abolished and replaced with a new regulator which is able to regulate pharmacists and the operator of the pharmacy premise in both community and hospital irrespective of the fact that they are not pharmacist.

So the Standard says...2.1  There are enough staff, suitably qualified and skilled, for the safe and effective provision of the pharmacy services provided.

No guidance as to what this means. So GPhC how do you measure safe staffing levels? How many prescriptions a day can 1 pharmacist supervise safely with staff that are not yet qualified? 500, 800? 

A England, Manager

I think you are right, but those pharmacists checking 500 ....800 items a day must also be questioned and are also to blame. A few months ago a pharmacist was “boasting” in a Viber group that the pharmacy had reached 600 items for they day..... With a few more hours of the day to go. The thing that was going through my head was what a stupid and pathetic fool. But then I started to question if I was the fool. I believe there needs to be a cap on item numbers in relation to the number of staff and Pharmacists doing the work. Where a company did not have the right number of staff/pharmacists, anything above the cap should be forfeited. This rule could also be used if there was a robot in place as there would be a minimum number of Pharmacists to check what the robot churns out. To be able to make such rules needs pharmacists and pharmacy staff to actively lobby the GPHC. The only people I see willing to act and lobby are some locums and perhaps a few others here and there.... The numbers are too small and that's because most pharmacists are fools. And that includes the ones at the top of the organisations like the GPHC, RPS, PSNC, etc. From my experience, built over decades, working across the community sector, I would say the biggest group of fools are the those running these Pharmacy organisations and then close behind in second place are the independent contractors.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

They ignore it if the people running it are their "friends".

fatnose pansies, Sales

These organisations know exactly what this wishy washy GUIDANCE means: nothing, because it's optional. They'll respond to the GPhC's begging letter with bluster, just to keep the pantomime going. The GPhC is in on the joke and patients will continue to suffer.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

GPhC are only there to protect the public.Pharmacist staffing issues are not within their remit.

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist


Dave Downham, Manager

Errrr....don't you think that adequate staffing levels might actually help protect the public? Oh, wonder what that bear's doing in the woods?

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Don't shoot the messenger. Phone the GPhC and ask them yourselves. There is a reason why Boots et al can act with impunity with regards their staff.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Don't waste your time phoning the GPhC, I have done it myself. They will fob you off and insist it's not their job. Despite the fact that people are dying from dispensing errors. Protecting the public apparently only applies reactively so that they ban or reprimand the pharmacist on duty, they do not behave proactively, no matter how many people report an unsafe pharmacy. They are cowards.


Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Well said, Meera. the GPhC is supposed to be the regulator, so what they are doing gingerly asking other, minor pharmacy bodies about this issue is puzzling.

They should be ENFORCING this, as it is the main issue today putting patients in direct danger, and they are supposed to be mandated to protect the public.

Watch the "pharmacists under pressure" video on the internet and you will almost certainly come to two conclusions:

1. The big pharmacy chains will always deny that they are understaffed.

2. The GPhC will never tackle them directly, for some reason.

This behaviour just makes the GPhC look as powerless as the RPS, except that the GPhC has the power to, and seems to revel in, coming down on individual pharmacists.

As long as pharmacies in the UK remain dangerously understaffed, there will always be an inflated number of dispensing incidents, and unfortunately this means that there is an increased risk of patient harm, so if the GPhC were doing their job, they would be doing something about it immediately.

It's also why they never recognise dangerous staffing levels as a contributory factor in dispensing incidents - it much easier for them to blame the pharmacist and send them to FtP rather than admit staffing problems are widespread within the industry, because that's too much hard work for them to deal with. Either that or they know that forcing pharmacies to be properly staffed would reduce profits for their buddies at the big chains, despite increasing patient safety.

Meera Sharma, Primary care pharmacist

You've got to love this article! So the GPhC is a peripheral organisation, doesn't want to touch staffing/workforce pressure, but yet wants to know what OTHER bodies are doing about it. Ummm - what are you going to do if they don't respond, or choose not to do anything??! Hold another series of workshops?!! I doubt on could even make this up - beggars belief!

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