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GPhC: We should be ‘peripheral player’ in tackling pressure

Pharmacists will have to wait and see whether guidance on pressures will form part of new standards

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) used its workplace pressure event to tell pharmacists that everyone has a role to play in creating a stress-free culture at work – not just regulators.

Speaking exclusively to C+D at the GPhC’s central London event last week (October 18), chief executive Duncan Rudkin said the regulator should be a “peripheral player” in tackling workplace pressures, and it is up to everyone – including pharmacy leaders – to create a “corporate culture” that reflects this. 

“That doesn’t mean that these issues [should be allowed to] fall between the cracks,” he added. 

The event was the first part of the GPhC’s “programme of work” on workplace pressures, and a “wide range of stakeholders” (see below) were invited to share their experience of dealing with this issue. 

In his closing remarks at the event, Mr Rudkin reminded delegates putting patient safety first is an “unalienable” fact of being a healthcare professional. 

Commissioners also have an obligation to consider how the design of contracts for health services can affect both corporate and individual behaviour, by sending an “inadvertent” message that “only volume is valued”.

 "Wait and see"

The sector will have to “wait and see” whether guidance on workplace pressures will form part of the GPhC’s new standards for pharmacy professionals, which are currently being finalised, Mr Rudkin told C+D.

“They certainly place a huge emphasis on professional judgment, teamwork and many of the themes that have come up [at this event],” he said.

Mr Rudkin told delegates that the GPhC would not make a plan for its next steps “on the hoof”, but stressed that the regulator will inform the sector what it plans to do next.

It will also release a full list of delegates who attended in its event report, it said on Twitter.

The regulator announced at the event that GPhC inspectors will continue to monitor pharmacies’ staffing levels, despite increased financial pressures caused by funding cuts in England.


Who was at the workplace pressures event?

The GPhC invited a wide range of prominent figures to its event, from community pharmacy bosses to other healthcare regulators. Here are some of the sector leaders C+D spotted on the day:

Tess Fenn, Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK, president

Marc Donovan, Boots UK, chief pharmacist

Nick Hunter, Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and Rotherham local pharmaceutical committees, chief officer

Tim Rendell, Day Lewis, head of pharmacy

Do you expect the funding cuts to affect stress levels at work?

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

I have just paid my annual blood money. The only consolation is that I only have to do this a few more times. The GPHC is a classic example of everything that is wrong with the human race. All I can say is that anyone who is near the top of this organisation has no honour and what really pi**es me off is when they get on their high horse and lecture the real workers about professionalism, responsibility, ethics etc. Ethics my ars**!

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Dear Editor, please do not delete posts that are critical of the GPhC if you can?

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

As the GPhC describes itself as the"independant regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy premises in GB", I find it deeply concerning that they can sit back and be a peripheral player. Work place pressure is a growing problem, which not only effects the health of those working in the pharmacy, but puts the safety of the general public at risk. Does anyone actually have any confidence in these comedians .

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Refer to a post on another article on how GPhC tipped off Boots after a complaint was made. Very interesting indeed......

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

May I please have the link? This is interesting to me, because I do happen to know that the GPhC had meetings with superintendents of major multiples and had frank exchanges of views - *This comment has been edited to comply with C+D's community principles*

Paul Miyagi, Information Technology

It basically says GPhC informed Boots of complaint of understaffing and gave them a time slot when would visit for inspection. 

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Absolute disgusting! So apart from producing standards (there were some in place before this event), describing their role as a peripheral player (i.e. I can't do anything about this as I'm on the sideline!) and having a meeting with the very organisations causing these problems (because they are so concerned about this behaviour which they've denied). You could not make this up even if you tried!! Honestly, is this the best organisation to lead pharmacists through a reform?! The GPhC's own document "Guidance on whistleblowing" tells pharmacists to contact them for guidance - fat lot of good that's done for all teh pharmacists who reported these issues. The outcome is this event - a very sick joke. Definately not worth the money we pay to the GPhC - anyone interested in signing a petition to stop paying the fees - what exactly are we paying for when we can't even be safeguarded as a profession?

Paul Miyagi, Information Technology

Yes Meera, get one started , but for GPhC dissolusion. We would all be up for that.

GPhC is a Quango.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Maybe we could get an online petition going - probably can't get them disbanded, but could certainly express a vote of no confidence/not fit for purpose?

Maybe the Guardian would pick up on it? Make a nice back page story - "Pharmacists express lack of confidence in regulator"!

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

One of the GPhC responsibilities (taken directly from the website)

"establishing and promoting standards for the safe and effective practice of pharmacy at registered pharmacies"

As a contractor I would expect that the GPhC would actually be in the thick of this discussion and not just sat on the periphery.  I have regularly expressed my views on the pressure and abuse that locums/employee pharmacists are put under by the multiples. Whilst I may not be as vociferous as some on this site I agree, with many others, that the regulator is responsible for tackling the MUR/NMS targets and obscene pressure that is the norm these days.  I know of good people who are finding it hard with the constant emails from area managers and the fact that they fear losing their jobs if they don't meet targets.  The GPhC needs to stop cosying up to the big companies and do what needs to be done to support the majority of the pharmacists who are their members.

Also speaking for everyone at the coalface - prominent figures invited to the event.  What on earth do they know about the pressure and how genuine are their views when they are the ones responsible for the problem

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

The GPhC is an employers organisation. Don't expect them to do anything else but make sure pharmacists comply with reasonable requests. Employers will never be done for making pharmacists do unnecessary MURs, as the Boots case demonstrated.

John Dow, Advertising

In TV Soap terms "they are in bed together".   GPhC are as slippery as Boots , wouldn't trust em at all..

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

It would seem they are one and the same. Very worrying for you employees.

Yuna Mason, Sales

A peripheral player? What use is that, especially when you're playing for the wrong team (against the public)? 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

I think it means they're subs i.e. on the sideline, drinking tea and watching the game.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The role of the GPhC is firstly to cover its own back and secondly to point the finger of blame at a given pharmacist. Whether the basis for apportioning that blame is fair, is a subjective and fluid position. As such, the GPhC is right, it need not have a role in 'defending' pharmacists from 'perceived' unfairness, but merely decide their own position. 

People sense weakness and so the opportunity to treat people without equity. If you want to be treated with equity, it will not happen through the spontaneous goodwill of the opposing side, it will only ever happen when the opposing side fears the consequences of not treating you with equity. Try bullying a French pharmacist and see collective trade union response you get, it wouldn't be pretty. 

Community pharmacists need to influence the basis for apportioning blame in the workplace. The regulator and and corporates are currently the only influence. These two groups needs to fear the consequence of ignoring the views of community pharmacists and that will only happen with aggressive unionised action. 

Sharon Stone, Communications

Utter Clap-trap.  What difference will making it a standard do?????  OMG

What about a standard for the owners ( the instigators ) ???

Mr Pharmacist!, Pharmaceutical Adviser

What do you expect from a bunch of monkeys!  They didnt give a crap about work place pressures, all they are interested in is how much they can mug off pharamcists to keep them in their ivory tower and pay there pensions.  Nasty communistic organisation! They always smash on about protecting the public, but they cant see the relationship between workplace pressures and public safety.  What utter nonsense.  *This comment has been edited to comply with C+D's community principles*

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

So disappointing. I really have lost any shred of respect I had remaining for the GPhC.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

And for this we pay our money....

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