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GPhC predicts ‘spike’ in FTP concerns, as current level breaks record

Duncan Rudkin: Undoubtedly a wider societal aspect to increase in complaints
Duncan Rudkin: Undoubtedly a wider societal aspect to increase in complaints

The pharmacy regulator expects a “spike” in fitness-to-practise concerns if inspection reports are published, as current complaints hit record-breaking levels.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is currently consulting on its proposals to publish online its inspection reports of pharmacies.

In an exclusive interview last week (June 14), the regulator’s chief executive Duncan Rudkin told C+D that it is “reasonable” to expect this to result in a “spike in complaints and concerns, as people become more aware of how pharmacies are regulated”.

“Overall I would have thought [the volume of complaints] is likely to rise…in ways that will be quite hard to predict,” he added.

Record number of concerns

The number of fitness-to-practise concerns reported to the GPhC reached a record high of 667 between January and March 2018, according to a report published for its council meeting this month.

This marked a 32% increase on the 507 concerns reported in the same period the previous year.

It also signals a second record-breaking quarter for fitness-to-practise concerns, after the GPhC handled 602 between October and December 2017.

Mr Rudkin said he thought the increase in concerns was “partly to do with increased visibility of regulation generally [and] partly to do with the fact that we've made it much easier for people to raise concerns with us.”

“There is undoubtedly a wider societal aspect to this, perhaps in how members of the public and others are raising issues with regulators generally.”

“The increase seems to be pretty much across the board, across all sorts of types of issues,” he added.

You have until August to submit your responses to the GPhC’s consultation on regulating pharmacies here.

Has your pharmacy received a complaint this year?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

The GPhC is becoming a disciplinary department for companies like Boots, I am sure their policy of regulation through the superintendents is not working. Just a trawl on the FTP page of the GPhC reveals a large number of what I consider to be trivial cases (Boots is a prolific referer). Disturbingly, we now have 2 pharmacists convicted of terrorism offences, and am I right in thinking that inappropriate sexual behaviour is also on the increase? 

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Because although they claim to be fully transparent, they don't want you to see. What they say and what they do are not the same things.

Do a Google search for two words.




Read the first webpage that comes up.

How can anyone have faith in Rudkin and pals after reading that?

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

Two issues here. The GPhC consistently strike pharmacists off for the most spurious of reasons, always citing a need to reassure and protect the public. However, in the past three months the GPhC have only published the results of three FtP decisions.And the amount of cases published as a total is getting less and less. So how can the public be aware of the decisions, that are supposedly made in thier interest and for thier safety, if the GPhC refuse to release the transcripts?  Something not quite right going on at the GPhC. 

Also, yes, the public and increasignly, the multiples are referring pharmacists for the slightest of reasons, encouraged by the GPhCs excessive use of powers in striking off pharmacists. I've heard of area mangaers for a multiple threatening a referral to the GPhC over refusal to work bank holidays. Increasignly, the GPhC is seen as a disciplinary tool of the multiples, and in this respect only has itself to blame for the increased workload of the FtP department.

Also, don't be surprised if Duncan is laying the groundwork for a significant increase in registration fees this year or the next.


Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

So what are you trying to say? If they are getting more complaints but putting less to FtP it means they are dealing with minor complaints as they should, does it not?

Also, if you look at the numbers crudely, thats 2,500 complaints this year. Assuming they are individual complaints, thats a rate of 5% per year - a 1 in 20 chance you will have a GPhC letter every year.... 

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

No, they are putting more complaints through to FtP, but don't publically release the details of most FtP cases to the public. Even though the protection and confidence of the public is the reason invoked most in striking pharmacists off. Why the lack of transparency?

I agree 100% about the transparency issue and multiples referring to them with problems that really should be dealt with by HR.

Do you have any examples of pharmacists being struck off for spurious reasons? I'll be honest, whenever I have glanced through the hearings the reasons for striking off seem reasonable. But if you could point me in the direction of any that are questionable I'd be interested to see them.

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

A shame that the GPhC can't be struck off! I would think at least 40,000 people would want a new "regulator".

Constantly hiding behind the excuse that "we only act to protect the public", but how does striking off a pharmacist accused of stealing a 10 quid cardigan help the public? It's a total farce.

The GPhC has limited powers and it has to use them as much as it can to justify it's extremely expensive existence. That's why we all read about these outrageously stupid FTP cases and the like, whilst the people in the Paddington expose got nothing because they all went back to Pakistan. And they don't have power over online retailers so they have less power than a wet sock.

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