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GPhC's workplace pressure workshops could inform inspections

Duncan Rudkin: I do not accept we were nervous in our approach to workplace pressure evidence

The outcomes of the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) workshops on workplace pressures could inform how premises inspections are conducted in future, its chief executive has told C+D.

The regulator launched its first of two online workshops last week to seek feedback about "what quality means in pharmacy practice", as part of its ongoing “programme of work” on pressures in pharmacy.

The outcomes from the workshops could “inform all aspects of [the GPhC’s] work”, including “how we develop inspections, education and continuing professional development”, chief executive Duncan Rudkin said in an exclusive interview with C+D yesterday (January 24).

“Some of [the workshop conversations] will no doubt be relevant to workplace pressures, but it is also really important to put that in the wider context of quality, what is safe, and the experience patients have,” he added.

The GPhC confirmed that over 500 pharmacists and stakeholders have already participated in the online discussions, generating “around 80 ideas”. This has prompted the regulator to extend the workshop by another week.

GPhC "not nervous" to tackle companies head-on

Last year, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) said it was "very disappointed" by the regulator's alleged reluctance “to take firm action against the corporates", following the results of the the PDA's survey on pressures in pharmacies.

But Mr Rudkin stressed to C+D yesterday that the GPhC’s approach continues to be “well-informed and balanced”.

“I do not accept that we were nervous about [not naming companies or individuals].

“The regulatory process is fair to everybody involved, whether that is superintendents and owning companies, or individual professionals, and above all the public,” he said.

Mr Rudkin added that any comments made in the online workshops are anonymous. If any pharmacist feels they have “actionable, usable evidence” of bad practice in their pharmacy, they should contact the GPhC’s “concerns area”.

“That is not the kind of [information] I expect to come through the workshops,” Mr Rudkin pointed out.

Stakeholders who wish to contribute to the online workshops can email [email protected], the GPhC added.

A snapshot of the workshop conversations:

(Click on image to enlarge)


Should the GPhC consider workplace pressures in its premises inspections?

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

"The regulatory process is fair to all involved," he says. 

Every registrant who cares to comment about the GPHC has been scathing about the Duncan Rudkin regime's inability to enforce the basic regulatory processes on Premises, contractors, and owners. This workshop outcome was known well before is started because for as long as Duncan and his team can't tackle you know who, this is a waste of time. In the GPHC mag called regulate we see articles of Registrants struck off or disciplined for whatever shortcomings. Why is it that in Duncan Rudkin's tenure we have never read of any kind of action brought against owners, contractors or Premises issues?

We work in premises that you wonder whether GPHC inspectors ever visit. I worked in a Branch which had just had an inspection the day before. No running water in the dispensary and consultation room and the consultation room was the stock room and I had to stand with the patient with the door opened to do a consultation. This Branch got satisfactory and in the report, no mention was made of the consultation room or water situation. What is worse is that Duncan doesn't expect us to present issues like these during the workshop as a cause for workplace pressure. 

A template has been made for this workshop and the real causes can not be discussed. At the end, we expect something like a United Nations communique with lofty words and sentences, basically hot air and we will go back to the same institutions. We will continue to serve the public with the same if not worse risk to them. The GPHC will once in a while line up black and ethnic minority registrant transgressors in fitness to practice processes to show they are protecting the public.

What a world man.

*This comment has been edited to comply with C+D's community principles*

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

Mr Rankin has fundamentally misunderstood the concerns and fears that individual pharmacists feel with regard to reporting work place (retail) pressures. The regulatory through its inaction has given the impression that they are actually aligned with the multiples, and have done very little to correct this notion. Pharmacist feel unable to report anything for fear of losing their livelihoods; and why would you even bother to draw attention to yourself when you believe that the regulator will do nothing. The Guardian ('Have Boots Gone Rogue') said that they had one of the biggest mail responses to any article they had ever written in the history of the newspaper... highlighting work pressures... from hundreds, if not thousands of people. All saying the same thing. Some included accusations of unethical (and fraudulant) practices designed to rip off the NHS for the sake of profit... and the GPhC response?.... a workshop. 


PS: lovely view of the Thames Mr Rankin... that can't have come cheap.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

You need to know one thing when you are an employee/locum community pharmacist - YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. Your corporate employer is against you, the GPhC is against you, the RPS is irrelevant, fellow pharmacists are looking after their own back, contractors are consumed by net profit and the government barely recognises your existence. 

If you pony up the annual fee, the PDA will fight tooth and nail for you, but they will always be defending you after the event. We have arrived at an established equilibrium, an equilibrium that allows everybody to be quite sure of their future. As such, nobody should have any sympathy for employee/locum pharmacists - you have chosen to accept what you have been given. 

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

It turns out that all black registrants are not welcome from workshop. My email request bounced off as unauthorised. 

If you start a programme and you discriminate who participates then the outcome is void and meaningless. Even those people loathed by the author of this process have a role to play because they are involved and have a narrative which can inform this process.

Grace Lewis, Editorial


Thanks for your comment. The GPhC has asked that you email [email protected] and the team will re-send an invitation for you to join the workshop. 

Grace Lewis, C+D News Editor

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

Thank you very much for the information. 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Wow, the GPhC actually read the comments? Good that they must know in what high esteem we hold them in. Disgraceful that they don't seem to care.

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