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Initiate FtP processes only if ‘absolutely necessary’, GPhC suggests

GPhC: Current FtP model is “too often cumbersome, lengthy and inefficient”
GPhC: Current FtP model is “too often cumbersome, lengthy and inefficient”

FtP processes will only be initiated when “absolutely necessary”, the GPhC has suggested under proposed changes to an “often adversarial, cumbersome and inefficient” model.

Some concerns do not need to develop into an entire fitness-to-practise (FtP) process, for example when they do not pose an “ongoing risk” or “where the risk to the public has already been removed”, the regulator said.

The current FtP model is “too often cumbersome, lengthy and inefficient”, with a process that can be “adversarial” and have a negative impact on those involved, the regulator added in a draft fitness to practise strategy published with its latest council papers ahead of its meeting yesterday (July 9).

Under the new approach proposed, the GPhC will “only use formal FtP processes when it is absolutely necessary and seek early solutions and remediation where appropriate”.

The changes would also allow pharmacy professionals to “address concerns and return to practice sooner in appropriate circumstances”. In cases where there is not deemed to be a risk to the public, a “restorative approach” could be adopted, allowing the registrant to go back to work or continue working, “whenever such an approach can be managed safely”.

New approach for health and performance concerns

Concerns that relate to health and performance could be resolved “outside a formal investigation where appropriate”, the GPhC said.

Depending on circumstances, pharmacy professionals could be asked to complete a “reflective piece specifically related to the nature of the concern”, which could be submitted along with their revalidation or separately.

As part of this, they may be asked to tell the GPhC “how they intend to address some performance deficiencies or how they have learnt from a particular matter”.

Person-centred approach

The proposed FtP strategy will take a person-centred approach, the GPhC said, adding that this will “help us recognise that everyone is an individual with differing needs”.

As part of this, the GPhC set out its “service promises”, which include communicating with registrants “clearly” and adjusting its communication to their needs.

More enquiries will be made at triage – when the concern is received – under the proposed FtP strategy, which should help the regulator to investigate “the right concerns” and ensure that concerns “that can be resolved through alternative means are dealt with quicker”.

If the GPhC council agrees on the strategy, a 12-week consultation will be launched later this summer.

The GPhC said that its work on the draft FtP strategy was influenced by, among other elements, including “stakeholder engagement that took place in the summer of 2019” and a review into how other regulators have changed their processes.

Earlier this year, the Professional Standards Authority published a review of the GPhC in which the watchdog raised concerns about the regulator’s FtP processes.

What do you make of the GPhC's draft fitness to practice strategy?

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

The GPhC is having to work with the GMC and nursing bodies... I imagine they were horrified when they learned of the attitude of the GPhC which they would then be compared to... and pressure has been applied to make the GPhC toe the line of the others.

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

Absolutely necessary, or when <certain large multiple> spots a pharmacist who won't compromise on quality spritzing a perfume sample on themselves.


That's THEFT

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Easy removal from the register especially if from certain demographics.

PRIMARY CARE PHARMACIST, Primary care pharmacist

I've been the subject of a complaint from a patient that involved dispensing of 36 tablets of mebeverine instead of 42. Error was rectified within 24 hours, but patient still made GPhC complaint. Despite best efforts of local inspector to use a light touch and a prgamatic approach, superiors insisted on a warning letter, despite no previous complaints of any sort. It was a big shock to me, especially as the matter wasn't even discussed with me before the warning letter was issued, which took place so long after the event that I had little recollection of it happening. To this day no=one from GPhC has even discussed it with me, first I knew was that they'd spoken to the pharmacy manager at the pharmacy concerned and told them they were issuing me with a warning letter. 


Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

This implies that pharmacists have had to go through FtP proceedings when they weren't necessary which is disgraceful on the part of the GPhC but confirms our suspicions of it as an over-officiating organisation only too quick to get on the back of struggling pharmacists

Leon The Apothecary, Student

In further news, GPhC has announced that it has found that the substance commonly known as water, is in fact, wet. This is a revelation that seemingly has only surprised the GPhC, and is but one of many such statements issued by the organisation in question over the past twelve months, leading to many Pharmacists and Technicians to question the effectiveness in representing the pharmaceutical profession.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

This makes some sense as long as it is fair to all parties involved. Too often, the public complain, which results in a protracted and stressful experience for the Pharmacist, just because they want 'blood' when the issue could be dealt with by using a more pragmatic 'lighter touch' if appropriate 

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