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Fitness-to-practise ‘concerns’ raised with GPhC up by a quarter

The number of fitness-to-practise concerns raised has climbed steadily over the last six years
The number of fitness-to-practise concerns raised has climbed steadily over the last six years

The number of fitness-to-practise “concerns” sent to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is up by almost a quarter in a year, it has said.

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 understand what the impact of the revised criteria will be”.

Recent trends

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.

Have you ever submitted a fitness-to-practise concern?

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

An eye catching headline but the important thing is how many of the public complaints made in previous years have been found to be based on facts . Perhaps the GPHc would like to issue the figures from previous years with number of complaints made by the public and numbers found to have a genuine cause for concern where action was taken .

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

Why in that case has the GPhC only published THREE fitness to practise cases in the past four months? How can the confidence of the public be held, if FtP decisions are hidden from the light of day? And why are they hidden from the light of day? Justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done. Something not quite right going on at the GPhC. 

And surely, there must be a corrleation between increasignly desperate and dangerous staffing levels, and complaints from the public, which is by far the largest source of referrals. If the GPhC consistently refuses to ensure public safety by getting a grip on staffing levels and greedy contractors, these numbers will continue to increase, and the GPhC itself will lose the confidence of the profession and the public.

This being the second story in as many weeks about GPhC referrals, it's obvious that they are laying the groundwork for a substantial increase in fees. Pension obligations must be getting out of hand.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

I think that far more disturbing than their unwillingness to publish the cases, is the sheer amount of time it takes them to deal with a case. From the time the pharmacist gets the worrying letter about a complaint to the final hearing can be 18 months or more. It's basically torture for the pharmacist.

I don't know if they enjoy making their registrants sweat for that long, or if there is just a general level of incompetence with regards to dealing with these matters.

Erstwhile, "fitness to regulate" concerns are up over 10,000%.

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