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GPhC inspections have ‘always’ taken account of workplace pressures

Mr Rudkin: People being inspected may be more aware of these issues
Mr Rudkin: People being inspected may be more aware of these issues

General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) inspectors have “always” taken account of target pressures as part of their pharmacy inspections, according to the regulator’s chief executive.

Asda pharmacy manager David Gallier-Harris told C+D earlier this month that during a recent inspection, he was asked “direct questions” about any “management pressure” to conduct medicines use reviews (MURs).

“Lots” of the investigation carried out by the inspector focused on “workplace pressures”, Mr Gallier-Harris said on Twitter.

When C+D asked if inspections were increasingly focusing on the impact of target-driven pressure, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said: “The question of incentives and targets has always been part of the standards for registered pharmacies.”

“It may be a matter of people being inspected being more aware of some of these issues, because of the high profile of the [workplace pressures] issue,” Mr Rudkin said earlier this month (September 11).

He pointed to principle two of the regulator’s standards for pharmacies, which includes a standard stating: “Incentives or targets [must] not compromise the health, safety or wellbeing of patients and the public, or the professional judgement of staff.”

“In any pharmacy inspection...we would expect our inspectors to be looking at evidence in the pharmacy about how [all] standards are being maintained,” Mr Rudkin explained.

“[Pharmacy] staff must be empowered to provide feedback and raise concerns where appropriate – and if necessary they can do that with our inspectors.”

Inspectors will explore pressure complaints “in depth”

If a pharmacy employee revealed they were being placed under excessive pressure, a GPhC inspector “would explore that in some depth”, Mr Rudkin said.

“If necessary, [the GPhC would] require the pharmacy owner to put in place an action plan to deal with those issues – as with any aspect of the standards.”

In a consultation document published in July, the GPhC said pharmacy managers must “manage appropriately any personal or organisational goals, incentives or targets, without compromising safe and effective care”.

In January, Mr Rukdin told C+D the outcomes of the GPhC’s workshops on workplace pressures could inform how pharmacy inspections are conducted in future.

Are you feeling the pressure of the funding cuts?

Have you noticed an increase in pressure at work as the funding cuts have started to 'bite'? Have you been asked to reduce your hours or increase the number of MURs? Or has a change of ownership affected your pharmacy?

Share your story with C+D by emailing us at this address with the subject "pharmacy pressures". We will respect all requests for anonymity.

Please provide as much detail as possible, including the relevant town or region.

Were you asked about workplace pressures during your GPhC inspection?

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

"GPhC inspections have ‘always’ taken account of workplace pressures"


Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Did the inspectors wear blindfolds and ear defenders when they went to Boots?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Boll***s they have.

Fuzzy Wuzzy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

C&D, please follow up some of the requests and investigate the claims by your readers.  There are 2 clear instances raised (I- GPhC not following up claims made by a pharmacist of work pressures and II- a claim that MUR fraud has been brushed under the carpet).  You obviously read these comments as they are edited to comply with your guidelines so read this and investigate! The profession demands answers and want the relevant people to be held to account!

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

They'll do nothing. C&D have the same masters as the GPhC.

Marcus Jones, Student

Honestly do you really think a Pharmacist will put their job at risk, and speak up about workplace pressures. The culture of these pharmacies is to just replace difficult staff.

C&D please please create an anonymous poll, so that the real views of pharmacists can provide feedback.

I think you will find the feedback very different from the information collated from the GPHC.

Patient safety, workplace safety should come before meeting targets!

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

If what you say Mr Rudkin is "true" then kindly explain why your inspectors never bothered to get back in touch with me on 2 separate occassions while working as a community pharmacist?? I specifically said I wanted to discuss teh pressures and was asked to e-mail them - guess what 5 years later and job change later, I'm still waiting for the reply! Cannot believe that you would insult pharmacists by printing such a lie - please back it up with some facts. How many inspectors have reported this during their visits, how many have been actioned and what actions have been taken? Plus, I thought you had already stated that you regard yourselves as a "peripheral organisation", so why this article now - are you no longer a "peripheral organisation"?!

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Meera, I also emailed what was then the RPSGB before they brought in the RP regs with questions that I wanted answered and guidance.  I also received no reply!  I even told an Inspector I saw a couple of years later, and she expressed surprise and apologised!  So nothing changes!

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Mr Rudkin is a very honest trustworthy person which is why he has attained such high office and is such a fantastic leader.I am certain many would follow him to the ends of the earth.....

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

*This comment has been deleted for breaching C+D's community principles*

Fuzzy Wuzzy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant all the inspections you have done and not even one has raised alarm bells....hardly believable just like a mistake or near misses don’t happen as you tell us! Out of interest there was a case brought to the GPhC regarding a company pharmacist falsifying MURs and the company just let him resign and never repaid the money back to NHS England....what was the outcome of that investigation eh?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

The GPhC can't afford to upset the big boys, they know who their real boses are. If you are just an employee and get reported by the superintendent, then this is an actionable matter.

I have experience of a GPhC inspector who deliberately avoided looking at evidence, she made her mind up even before she started the investigation.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Sounds like a FA investigation. Lol.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Did the GPhC inspector ask the right questions? Was David Gallier Harris asked about his attitude and relationship with the Asda management, whether he wants to be perceived 'well' by his superintendent, if yes, then they should ask another store the questions. Secondly, he should be asked whether he was, in the past, involved with any non-pharmacist senior managers (e.g. the regional pharmacy coach) to pressurise other pharmacists to do MURs e.g. on regional conference calls, whether he was involved in phone calls to other pharmacists asking why they didn't do any MURs or has he ever been a "MUR champion" for his area? Was Mr David Gallier Harris recognised in the Asda awards ceremony as being in the "400 Club" (those stores that did the required number of MURs)? If he answers positively to these questions, would he admit to the inspector that other pharmacists have been/are placed under pressure by him to do MURs?

This C&D article paints one particular pro-GPhC picture for a particular purpose from a non-typical pharmacist, could Mr Gallier Harris be seeking any future positions with the GPhC? And for those who don't know, David Gallier Harris is reported to be a member of the rebalancing board which is involved with the recent controversial proposals, who agreed on secrecy (from other pharmacists) as the discussions went on.

Or even better, maybe Mr Gallier Harris can answer those questions here for us.

... and finally to C&D ... if you want to publish someone's views, don't you think you should do a lot more background research on your subject?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

To date, both David Gallier-Harris and his superintendent choose not to participate, doesn't this tells us something?

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Mr Rudkin, I'd like to stress that my yearly fee to the GPhC is paid only grudgingly. If it weren't legally required, I would save my £250 and spend it on something more worthwhile (a Nintendo Switch happens to cost about the same and would be infinitely more rewarding) as the GPhC's track record is laughable.

The regulator has no sympathy for the average employee pharmacist, is heavy handed when it comes to FtP and is clearly biased in favour of big multiples despite insurmountable evidence pointing to unfair workplace practices in companies such as Boots. 

You have done little to nothing for the profession, to the point most of us regard you as little more than a necessary nuisance. Most of us think of the PDA, an indemnity provider and union, as our unofficial representative abd protector. This is how low the GPhC has fallen in the eyes of pharmacists.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Well put M Yang - you took the words right out of my mouth! Think a lot of pharmacists share the same views.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

How would you square these statements with the decision of the GPhC to take no action against Boots after the Guardian allegations of extensive MUR abuse last April?

The series of articles generated, according to the newspaper, a record postbag in which many Pharmacists gave some harrowing examples of the workplace conditions and pressures they were forced to endure just to keep their jobs. I believe the PDA also supplied further evidence at the same time.

Additionally, the short time between the public allegations and the “no action” decision is suggestive of a very cursory investigation at best……. if indeed any real investigation was carried out.

If there was no action taken then against a large Multiple for excessive workplace pressures then there never will be.

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

They would take action against an individual pharmacist making a minor transgression but do nothing to penalise a company where there was overwhelming  evidence of MUR bullying....unforgivable really...I doubt that workplace pressures meeting would have been set up if it wasn't for that guardian article....

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

That would fit perfectly with my definition of a coward and a bully.

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