The BBC Inside Out programme – which aired on Monday (January 8) – revealed that the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) conducted an investigation into staffing levels at Boots in 2016, following concerns raised by a former professional standards manager at the multiple, who alleged that its “staffing model…could put patient safety at risk”.
Speaking to C+D today (January 11), the day after he spent half a day in London, PDA chairman Mark Koziol claimed “a lot” of MPs were quite “upset” by the programme.
"We are now actively engaged with parliamentarians about this matter. Lots of questions have been asked.”
However, Mr Koziol said he could not disclose which MPs he had spoken with.
Mr Koziol alleged the GPhC is “tilted towards looking at and disciplining individual pharmacists” rather than those with more control over staffing levels, such as employers.
“The GPhC is telling us they don't have the powers to go after employers”, Mr Koziol claimed. “They [need to] get the powers required for them to do the other half of their job.”
In response, GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin told C+D the regulator is expecting legislation to come into effect in 2018 that will provide it with a “range of enforcement tools”.
“Further powers for the regulator are a matter for the government and separately the government is currently consulting on reforming health professional regulation,” Mr Rudkin said.
He stressed that the regulator is “proactively engaged in the discussions with government, and others” about “how regulation can best work to protect patients and support improvements in the care they receive”.
The GPhC pointed to its standards for registered pharmacies, which say that pharmacy owners and superintendents are responsible for ensuring appropriate levels of staffing.
Mr Rudkin also told C+D on Monday (January 8), that the regulator takes the view that setting the right staffing level is “best done by the people responsible for managing a pharmacy on the ground”.
The GPhC added yesterday that its inspectors are in pharmacies daily, checking they meet standards “including that a pharmacy has enough staff to provide safe and effective services”.
“We make sure any pharmacy not meeting a standard quickly takes action to fix this,” it said. Since 2013, it has taken action in over 275 pharmacies – including 26 Boots branches – that did not have enough staff, it added.
PDA disagrees with approach
However, the PDA said in a statement released the day after the BBC programme that it “fundamentally” disagrees with the regulator’s approach to staffing levels being set by the “people responsible for managing the pharmacy on the ground”.
Mr Pitt claimed his organisation had come across “quite a lot of instances” where after raising staffing issues the pharmacist had received a “disciplinary” or a “hard talk about not being a team player”.