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Watchdog praises GPhC fitness-to-practise procedures

Fitness-to-practise The Professional Standards Authority has found "nothing that gave cause for concern" after auditing 100 of last year's GPhC cases, but did criticise the regulator's record keeping and correspondence.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has dealt with fitness-to-practise cases robustly and promptly but must make improvements in its record keeping, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has found.

An audit of 100 GPhC cases between February and July last year found "nothing that gave cause for concern", but the PSA called on the regulator to improve its documentation and correspondence.

Problems included delays and gaps in correspondence during the transition of regulatory powers from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to the GPhC, which left two registrants unaware they were under investigation.

In three cases, the GPhC also failed to tell the complainant the outcomes of the hearings.

A PSA audit of 100 GPhC cases between February and July last year found "nothing that gave cause for concern"

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And, although the PSA agreed with the GPhC's decisions in closing cases, it recommended that the regulator should review the risks associated with having one person making decisions in certain parts of the fitness-to-practise process.

It also urged the GPhC to "ensure consistency around cases where harm has been alleged" by obtaining further information from complainants and experts.

But the PSA praised the GPhC for its robust investigations and said risk assessments continued to be a strength for the regulator. It also highlighted that the GPhC had displayed "particular good practice with the timeliness of casework" and had addressed previous delays by recruiting more staff, introducing a database and a new investigation process.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said he was pleased the PSA had identified the regulator's progress in dealing with fitness-to-practise cases and pledged to address the points raised. "We are continually working to make further improvements, including the areas recommended in this report, in order to meet the high standards we want to achieve in our management of fitness-to-practise cases," he said.

What do you think of the GPhC's fitness-to-practise procedures?

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Dany Ros, Primary care pharmacist

How many prescribing errors/interventions do pharmacists prevent/make on a daily basis ? The GPs get their backsides saved by pharmacists but nobody will watch our back.

I once stopped a prescription for Pred Forte eye drops because I was fortunate enough at the time to be handing out the presctiption to the patient myself and had a casual chat with her. When she said that her dry eyes should improve with this prescription, the alarm bells rang very loudly and I checked with the GP who replied that he "didn't mean" to prescribe Pred Forte but hypromellose eye drops. Had I been busy at that time and not talked to the patient myself (why would one challenge a prescription for Pred Forte anyway?), I dare not imagine what the GPhC would have done to me...

How is it fair that GPs get away with prescribing errors and not pharmacists? Maybe we should have a system where every intervention a pharmacist makes should go towards a credit pool that could be redeemed against in the future...

Benoy Krishnan, Pre-reg graduate

Justice should be done , but consider the circumstances of the victim, don't destroy any one's life and expectations in the name of some fault he or she committed long ago. Understand the situation and understand their feelings. It is not about keeping some people on work in the highest of authorities and make others redundand and in the brim of suicide

Freelance Pharmacist, Academic pharmacist


Tim B, Locum pharmacist

Gosh, I feel soooooo reassured!!!!

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