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'Overstretched' pharmacists back owners taking staff training 'burden'

Some respondents to the GPhC highlighted the “existing pressures” on pharmacists
Some respondents to the GPhC highlighted the “existing pressures” on pharmacists

"Overstretched" pharmacists have backed proposals to hand over accountability for training unregistered staff to pharmacy owners.

Of the 828 responses to the General Pharmaceutical Council's (GPhC) consultation on “ensuring a safe and effective pharmacy team” – which ran from July-October 2017 – 86% of individuals agreed with making pharmacy owners, rather than the responsible pharmacist, accountable for training unregistered staff, the regulator said in council papers published this month (March 6).

The support was more subdued from the organisations that responded, with only 63% backing the proposals, the GPhC noted.

Under the GPhC's current requirements, individual pharmacists are accountable for the training of unregistered staff.

The GPhC proposed that pharmacy owners become responsible for selecting appropriate training for their staff, and that the regulator cease to accredit dispensing and medicines counter assistant courses.

Freeing up time

Respondents to the consultation said “removing this responsibility [for responsible pharmacists] was seen as a positive development, as it would free some of their time and allow them to focus on their clinical and patient-centred duties”, the GPhC noted.

Respondents also highlighted the “existing pressures” on pharmacists, with “staff training being an additional burden on already overstretched pharmacy professionals”.

“Some” disagreed with the proposals

Among the minority who disagreed with the proposals were “some” who felt that the owner “might not be a pharmacist, [and so] might lack the understanding of the training needs of staff in the pharmacy”. This could “lead to a tick-box approach”, the respondents told the GPhC.

“Some respondents were concerned about the GPhC’s withdrawal from the accreditation of courses and the potential decline in the standard of courses,” the regulator added.

Risks taken “very seriously”

In an exclusive interview last week (March 13), GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin told C+D the potential decline in the standard of courses was a “risk…that we need to take very seriously”.

“The whole point of regulation is to provide assurance and improve standards,” Mr Rudkin said.

“If some people are worried that something we do might have the opposite effect, that's absolutely right that we pay attention to that and come up with a good answer to that challenge.”

Read how respondents to the GPhC consultation also called for “minimum staffing levels” to be linked to dispensing volume here.

2 Comments
Question: 
How would the proposed changes affect you?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

I think this is a bad move, it will certainly result in a drop in standards. The profit motive will drive owners to find the supplier offering the cheapest training with the highest pass rate (or those which refuse to fail trainees), nothing about the quality motive.

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

I'm fully in favour of holding owners accountable for training of staff but do not trust organizations to ensure staff are appropriately trained and invest in their training. This seems like another cost-cutting measure that will drop pharmacy standards.

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