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GPhC: Managers must prioritise patient safety over targets

The GPhC plans to make pharmacy owners accountable for all staff training
The GPhC plans to make pharmacy owners accountable for all staff training

Pharmacy owners should be accountable for ensuring managers put patient safety ahead of targets, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has urged.

In a consultation document published yesterday (July 20), the GPhC said managers have a “significant influence over the culture, practices and environment of the pharmacy business”.

Under its draft guidance “to ensure a safe and effective pharmacy team”, the GPhC stated that pharmacy owners should make sure managers understand “how to manage appropriately any personal or organisational goals, incentives or targets, without compromising safe and effective care” and “that pharmacy professionals must make patient safety a priority”.

Background to the consultation

In June 2016, the regulator announced it was conducting a "programme of work" on pressures in community pharmacy, after a survey from the Pharmacists’ Defence Association highlighted the scale of workplace pressures affecting the sector.

As part of its programme of work, the GPhC launched a series of online workshops in January to collect feedback from pharmacists about “what quality means in pharmacy practice”.

The GPhC told C+D yesterday that its latest consultation was prompted by a range of work over the last five years, including the online workshops, and feedback from its consultations on professional and educational standards.

It is the first time the GPhC has set out in guidance what pharmacy owners should do to ensure non-registrant managers understand their responsibilities and the responsibilities of the wider pharmacy team, the regulator told C+D.

Training for staff

Under the GPhC's current policy, individual pharmacists are accountable for the training of staff. However, the GPhC has proposed that accountability for the training of both registered and unregistered staff should sit with the pharmacy owner.

If the guidance is approved, the GPhC will cease to accredit dispensing and medicines counter assistant courses. Instead, pharmacy owners will become responsible for selecting appropriate training for their staff, it explained.

Policy out of date

The consultation is open until October 11. In the document, the regulator said “the current policy framework is out of date and does not reflect the diversity of roles within pharmacy”.

Commenting on the latest document, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said: “We wanted to provide guidance which gives greater clarity on roles and responsibilities.

“Our proposed approach gives pharmacy owners the decide what training their staff need for their individual roles, but also makes them accountable for ensuring that all staff working in the pharmacy are competent and empowered to provide safe and effective care to people using their services.”

The proposed new guidance sets out:

  • the key areas that are needed to support a safe and effective pharmacy team
  • the pharmacy owner’s responsibility to ensure unregistered pharmacy staff are competent for their roles and the tasks they carry out
  • the pharmacy professional’s responsibility to ensure that anyone they delegate a task to is competent and appropriately trained, and exercise proper oversight
  • the importance of staff in managerial or leadership positions, who may or may not be a registered pharmacy professional, understanding that pharmacy professionals must prioritise patient safety over organisational goals.

Source: Consultation on guidance to ensure a safe and effective pharmacy team, GPhC

What do you make of the GPhC's latest consultation?

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

As an employee, try telling your manager that you are not going to do a certain task because it compromises patient safety. The P45 will follow, The End

PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

Again after CPD consultation follows this . The GPHC cannot do its own job and is passing the buck down the line so it can blame others for its shortcomings.  The GPHC has to decide whether it is fit for purpose.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

It's not fit for purpose. We all know that.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Unless this guidance has some "measures" that can be actioned, its as useless as the paper its written on and amounts to nothing - it can't be enforced. Plus, strange coincidence - a multiple announces their decision for apprentice schemes and GPhC very conveniently issue guidance that states "...the pharmacy owner is responsible for the training..." - coincidence?! I'm just appalled by the blatant incompetence of GPhC to tackle anything that affects its members and we pay for this un-privileged service. You couldn't even make this up!

Del Boy, GP


Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Written by GpHC, approved and signed off by Multiples.

Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

I suspect the GPhC are trying to be helpful with this statement , but the poor employee pharamcist would not fair too well taking GPhC's advice , as Boots etc, would soon have some spurious complaint upheld against the Pharmacist , then they would be unemployed . Far better if the GPhC had "muscle " and would back the pharmacist for taking this stance rather than looking the other way.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

The GPhC is the de facto disciplinary dept for multiples like Boots, while e.g. Boots can do no wrong, the pharmacist is the one on whom all blame falls. A failure in regulation. 

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

"The current policy framework is out of date"!!! They said that - Wow! When were their policies "in date" and "relevant" - I ask?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Pharmacy students look away.

A trainee McDonald’s manager earns between £22,000 and £25,000. let that sink in for a moment. 

Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Will the G.Ph.C stand up to Boots? No prizes for guessing the answer

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

Too little and far too late. This is unenforceable unless this guidance is property policed. But try tell your manager that you think targets are affecting patient safety.... you will be moved on and someone who does toe the line will be bought into replace you. Then the company will performance manage you into unemployment. 

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager


Just in case the editor forgets to make any mention of this PR disaster.


Boots 'truly sorry' in morning-after pill row

Yuna Mason, Sales

I'm sure owners of will be terrified of this unenforceable "guidance". It looks like a smokescreen for the real objective - that owners will decide what training pharmacy staff will need, without input from the pharmacist, so that the GPhC doesn't have to accredit training courses for dispensing assistants and medicines counter staff itself. That will put pharmacists in an even more difficult position. It reads like something owners would design themselves.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Yuna, the GPHC wants MCA and technician registrations, otherwise who will pay for their pensions?

Sunil Kumar, Community pharmacist

GPhC needs to be realistic !!!

The average pharmacy in England will lose £42,000 over 12 months as a result of a combined category M clawback and the ongoing funding cuts, accountant Umesh Modi has predicted.

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Pharamcy owners being held accountable? How does this apply when the owner is a certain CEO of a certain big mutiple? Sure, it's easy to apply puntiive measures against independent owners but I can't see the GPhC applying sanctions against the big boys, when it's the latter who're involved in the overwhelming number of FtP cases we've seen over the years. How about a clause that applies punishment against managers who have direct control over day to day operations of a pharmacy? I'm of course referring to the managers who push targets and apply undue pressure against pharmacists.

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

Managers should have to be GPhC registered 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I partially agree, but I'd rather be registered with someone capable personally.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Tough Words from the GpHc. I wonder what will happen when an employee pharmacist reports transgressions? Managers of the multiples must be cr****** themselves.

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The employee pharmacist will be forced out - and the multiple managers will be grinning

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