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The GPhC's first responsibility is to the public - but investigations take too long

David Reissner concludes that although the GPhC has a responsibility to the public, investigations take too long.

David Reissner, senior healthcare partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, comments on the GPhC's role in the light of Paul Badham's FTP experience

I think the first thing that very many pharmacists still haven't grasped is the fact that the GPhC is a very different kind of regulator to the former RPSGB. Pharmacists are now registrants, not members. The GPhC doesn't have any responsibility to registrants except to set standards and promote good practice. Its responsibility is to the public. Specifically, the Pharmacy Order 2010 says the GPhC's function is to "protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of members of the public, and in particular of those members of the public who use or need the services of registrants". Of course, pharmacists being investigated will find the experience very stressful, and even more so in cases referred to a fitness-to-practise committee. Going on the facts reported in this case, I think the real problem is that cases take so long to deal with, and I do think the GPhC can be criticised for the delays in dealing with investigations. It's awful for pharmacists and their families when cases are hanging over their heads for years.

I think the real problem is that cases take so long to deal with, and the GPhC can be criticised for the delays

It can take less time now to bring cases to a hearing because there is more than one fitness-to-practise committee and the committees sit more often. But, in my view, the investigation processes still take too long.

David Reissner is senior healthcare partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys LLP ([email protected])  

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