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Second chance to oppose ‘flawed’ CPD proposals in NI

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland is to run another consultation on its plans to make CPD mandatory, which could see pharmacists struck off without a hearing if they fail to comply

Northern Ireland pharmacists are to get a second chance to air their views on controversial CPD proposals next week, C+D has learned.  

The Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will run another consultation on its plans to make CPD mandatory, which could see pharmacists struck off without a hearing if they fail to comply, it has revealed.  

The new consultation will focus on the legislation surrounding the plans, including the sanctions applied to pharmacists and the appeals process, PSNI told C+D on Tuesday (October 8). 

Under PSNI's plans, pharmacists would not necessarily be entitled to a hearing before being struck off for failure to do 30 hours of CPD a year

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Under the proposals, pharmacists will have to undertake 30 hours of CPD a year and will have 28 days to put their case in writing to the PSNI if they fail to comply. If the regulator then decides to strike them off the register they will not necessarily be entitled to a hearing and can only appeal the decision once they have been removed.

In an earlier consultation, which ran from November to February this year and was published in May, half of the 82 respondents said they did not think the proposed remedial measures were proportionate.  

The Pharmacy Forum criticised the remedial system as "flawed" and many respondents called for stronger appeal rights. Some also raised concerns that 28 days to appeal was not enough time to allow written responses.  

There was split opinion over the proportionality of the CPD requirements, which oblige registrants to record how their work has contributed to public safety and to ensure half of their entries are scheduled learning.  

Nearly half of registrants felt the standards were not clear and proportionate, and some expressed concerns they were "excessive, overly burdensome and disproportionate". Boots suggested that the only mandatory requirement should be to undertake 30 hours of CPD a year.  

In the first consultation, the PSNI pledged to consider the issues and stressed that registrants would have the opportunity to take corrective action on CPD deficiencies before facing removal from the register.  

Noel Wardle, partner at legal firm Charles Russell, said pharmacists should always have the opportunity to explain deficiencies in a hearing. Only allowing written evidence in some incidents could jeopardise pharmacists' chances of successfully making their case to the regulator, he told C+D.  

"You often feel you stand a better chance of persuading someone if you can look them in the eye and explain to them what the problem is, and give them the opportunity to ask questions," Mr Wardle explained.  

In England, the GPhC can remove a pharmacist from the register if they fail to respond to a request to submit their CPD record for review by a particular deadline, under rules introduced in 2011. The registrant can request a hearing, Mr Wardle said.  

The GPhC had removed a pharmacist from the professional register in July and issued a further 126 with notices for failing to submit the minimum nine CPD entries since July 2012, it said in its September 2013 issue of its bimonthly publication Regulate, published on Friday (October 4).  

In a C+D poll of 72 readers this week carried out this week, 90 per cent said registrants should not be struck off without a hearing for failure to comply with CPD.

Under which system would you rather do your CPD – PSNI's or the GPhC's?

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