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GPhC unveils ‘duty of candour’ requirements

Pharmacists will have a professional duty to be "open and honest" with patients if something goes wrong in their care, the GPhC says

Pharmacists will have a professional duty to be “open and honest” with patients if something goes wrong in their care to help establish transparency as the norm

Pharmacists will have a professional duty to inform patients when something has gone wrong in their care and apologise where the mistake has caused harm or distress, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has announced.


The regulator unveiled new requirements for pharmacists to adhere to a "duty of candour" yesterday (October 13), which will place a stronger emphasis on being "open and honest" with patients.


The duty will apply to all healthcare professionals in the UK – eight other regulators including the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council have also backed the principles – and comes as a response to the Francis report published last February.


The report uncovered serious breaches of care at Mid-Staffordshire Trust, and healthcare regulators, including the GPhC, vowed to learn from the failings.


GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said focusing on this duty of candour would strengthen its ongoing work to encourage an open culture among pharmacy professionals and help establish transparency as "the norm" in healthcare settings.

The duty of candour requires pharmacists to inform patients of mistakes in their care that could cause harm or distress and explain "fully" the short-term and long-term implications. Pharmacists should apologise for any harm caused and offer an appropriate remedy or support to "put matters right" wherever possible, according to a joint statement signed by a range of regulators including the GPhC and PSNI.


The duty also requires pharmacists to behave in an "open and honest" manner towards their colleagues, employers and the GPhC. They should agree to take part in reviews and investigations and raise concerns where necessary, rather than discouraging whistleblowing, the regulators said in their statement.


This is a professional duty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but it could become a legal duty in Scotland. The Scottish government is due to open a consultation tomorrow (October 15) on introducing duty of candour legislation.


In April, pharmacy bodies warned that enforcing a duty of candour among health professionals could have the opposite effect unless dispensing errors were decriminalised.


A duty of candour was first mooted in 2011 by the Future Forum set up to advise on the NHS reforms; the NPA warned at the time that it must not become a box-ticking exercise for community pharmacies.



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11 Comments

Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

by the way i was threatened by this manager when i tried to put a formal complaint - it was very very very bad - location inner city !

Miracure Pharmacist, Work for a health/commissioning consultancy company

ill tell you what happened in my work place, my manager had a problem with me - he left my personal file out so everyone could talk about my age. i reported him to the informatio commisioners officer - when the NHS trust was approached the nhs managers denied everything they sais, so they lied. no notes were taken during the meeting as it was all part of a nasty conspiracy, the manager worked in mental health for 33 years and found something out about me on my dbs and wanted to ruin my livelihood.

i took legal action, suprisingy NPA sypported me and paid all my legal fees the PDA well they ripped me to bits and shreds, some of the legal advise they gave me was out of date.

i am now in the process of writing a book about my life - very open and honest and all these individuals will be named and shamed. the council was very supported of me and said we have had no problems with you in the past.

ii cant believe what level these professionals stooped too, ah well it makes an interesting read - and my book will sell like hot cakes title of the book well its in my name !

[email protected], Community pharmacist

This duty of candour, does the entire medical profession have this?

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

good article about errors in todays daily mail

Morrisons pharmacy LOL

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

With dispensing errors still a criminal offence, couldn't requiring them to be reported under threat of regulatory action be a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights which implies a privilege against being compelled to self-incriminate?

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

This is what is called Hypocrisy. When the idea of Self Reporting was outrightly rejected by the entire sector, the power to be decided to introduce a charter that will penalise people for not self-reporting for errors !! It does not surprise me, the way the GPhC has been functioning (RULING) so far, it has become synonymous with HIT*** (the famous/ in-famous ger**n) So, all they do is try and find ways to make our life as difficult as possible.

Shall we call this one more feather in the GPhC hat??

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

"The duty also requires pharmacists to behave in an "open and honest" manner towards their colleagues, employers and the GPhC. They should agree to take part in reviews and investigations and raise concerns where necessary, rather than discouraging whistleblowing, the regulators said in their statement"

How exactly does thi fit in for pharmacists working for multiples? Surely one cannot tell me that failings in that setting are going to be attributed solely towards the pharmacist. There needs to be a level of responsibility that should be taken up by the company for any failings, otherwise this "duty of candour" is simply a paper-exercise.

Naresh Chauhan, Community pharmacist

Meera makes a good point - re: duty of the company. Invariably there are multiple factors to consider when a mistake may happen. Some can be directly attributed to the company. Examples include: badly designed dispensaries, inadequate staffing, non-existant tea breaks, poorly trained staff, etc. So the GphC must reconsider.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

have a look at the article about GPhC shipping out cases to 3rd parties

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""So the GphC must reconsider.""

I would say the GPhC must consider such a charter to be signed and followed by the COMPANY (ies) first. Then an audit can be conducted after an year to find out how efficient it was. Depending on the outcomes a consultation can be rolled out to extend it to the Pharmacists "IN LINE WITH OTHER HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS"

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Dear Meera, this makes it easier for the like of Boots et al to get rid of the Pharmacist.

By the way I'm Sure the GPhC are not in the pockets of the multiples

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