A total of 2,333 concerns were reported to the GPhC between March 2017 and March 2018, an increase of 444 – or 23.5% – compared to the same period in 2016-17, the regulator said.
“There is no single reason we can see to explain this increase,” the GPhC stressed in its annual report for 2017-18, published on Monday (July 9).
“Proportionally, the nature of concerns and who we receive them from are similar to the previous reporting period,” it added.
A total of 1,340 concerns were submitted by members of the public, accounting for 57% of all reports received in 2017-18, the GPhC reported. This is compared to 1,056 – or 56% of all complaints – raised by the public in the same period the year before.
GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin told C+D in June that the regulator expects a “spike” in concerns if inspection reports are published. The GPhC is currently running a consultation on its proposals, which closes on August 9.
The regulator introduced new fitness-to-practise threshold criteria in February, it said in its annual report, and is “undertaking a review...to understand what the impact of the revised criteria will be”.
C+D’s analysis also shows the number of concerns raised with the regulator has climbed steadily over the last six years, except for a slight decline from 1,939 in 2015-16, to 1,889 in 2016-17.
Pharmacists rise as number of pharmacies fall
In the latest annual report, the GPhC also noted a rise in the number of registered pharmacists, despite a fall in the number of pharmacies – though there is no suggestion these changes are linked to the number of reported concerns.
As of March 31, 2018, there were 55,258 pharmacists on the GPhC register – 1,291 more than in 2017 – which was “marginally lower than predicted”, the GPhC said.
However, there were 14,348 registered pharmacies in England, Wales and Scotland in 2017-18, 55 fewer than the previous year, it added.